Advertisements are absolutely everywhere, whether overt and obnoxious or subliminal and subtle, we’re being plied with a seemingly endless stream of advertising materials and branding every day. In any direction you look, there are large signs posted on the sides of highways – blown up, photo shopped and enhanced pictures tacked onto massive billboards, illustrating almost every product, business and event imaginable. Advertising has been around for as long as commerce has existed. From street vendors waxing lyrical about their wares to catchy jingles on the radio and TV, to today’s cleverly targeted and somewhat invasive popups on the newsfeed of your chosen online social medium – advertisements are inescapable feature of an industrial society.
However, some advertising campaigns have been so successful that they’ve entered into the common vocabulary, even managing to convert a bland brand into a hot trend. We’ve taken a look back over the last fifty years to identify five such advertisements which were instrumental in turning their brands into cultural and industrial fixtures.
5. Don’t Leave Home Without It- American Express
One of the most well known financial services, American Express, is also the 22nd most valuable brand in the world, $14.97 billion to be exact. Starting as a modest express mail business by Henry Wells, William G. Fargo and John Warren Butterfield, in Buffalo, New York, in 1850. American Express first established their head office in what was later known as the Tribeca section in Manhattan. It quickly became a monopoly of the express shipment movement throughout the State of New York. With the arrangement of alliances with other express companies, railroads and steamship companies.
In 1975, advertising company Ogilvy & Mather developed the highly successful Don’t Leave Home Without Them campaign for their traveler’s cheques. The advertisement featured Oscar winning actor Karl Malden. Other celebrities, including Mel Blanc, Cynthia Gregory and Stephen King, followed after. The ad usually followed a single formula: The celebrity spokesperson would ask the viewers if they knew them. They would then drop hints throughout the advertisement, but the identity is never revealed until the name appears imprinted on an American Express Card. The announcer would then explain how to apply for the card and the ad would end off with the classic, “Don’t Leave Home Without It”.
4. Got Milk? – California Milk Processing Board
In 1993, advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners created an endorsement to encourage the consumption of milk – cow’s milk in particular. Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, the founders of the company, mentioned in an interview that the slogan almost didn’t become an advertising campaign. People at the company thought that, “it was lazy, not to mention grammatically incorrect.” The campaign was first released on October 29th, 1993.
The advert, directed by Michael Bay, went like this: An ill-fated devotee of history unintelligibly answers a radio station’s $1000 trivia question but due to his mouth being full of peanut butter. He then looks sadly at the screen while the words “Got Milk?” were displayed. Within the year, milk sales skyrocketed to about $42.8 billion. In 2002, USA Today poll named Got Milk? as one of the ten best commercials of all time. In 2006, it underwent a language change to target a different demographic. It targeted a Spanish audience with the translation, “Toma Leche?”
The campaign has been known to have increased milk sales and consumption in California and has been named one of the most famous and influential item brands in the United States, with the day’s most sought-after celebrities posing for national Got Milk campaigns.
3. I’m Lovin’ It – McDonald’s
McDonald’s, one of the biggest monopolies on the planet, is not new to the advertising game. It began as a barbecue restaurant in 1940, run by the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice. They then changed their business into a hamburger joint when businessman Ray Kroc, who served as a franchise agent, joined them. He then proceeded to buy the company off of the brothers and was responsible for its worldwide growth. Becoming the world’s emblem of globalization by creating The Big Mac Index, where the Big Mac is used to judge various currencies.
Like every other business, McDonald’s has used various forms of media, like radio, newspaper ads but, especially, television to advertise its various products. To date, McDonald’s has used 23 slogans. I’m Lovin’ It was launched in 2003 in Germany. Produced by Adobe After Effects and Adobe in Design, with the music of Mona Davis Music and accompanying vocals by Justin Timberlake, it became their first global advertising campaign, and still runs 10 years later.
2. Think Small – Volkswagen
The Volkswagen was founded in Nazi Germany just a few years before World War II. Due to the dwindling economy and the fact that luxury models were the main products of the industry, only 1 in 50 German citizens owned a car. Soon, Adolf Hitler demands that basic vehicles be produced so that his citizens could have the same access to cars as the Americans. After the war, British officer Major Ivan Hirst, took over the company from the Germans. The Manhattan advertising agency Doyle Dane Berbach (DDB) went on to create some of Volkswagen’s most revolutionary campaigns of the 50s and 60s. The DDB created the advertisement with the Beetle’s smaller than usual form. The advertisement was mostly blank space, with the picture of the Beetle in a corner, as well as the logo Think Small and a list of advantages of owning a small car listed at the bottom. The ad aptly represented the revolutionary simplicity and minimalism of the car.
The magazine Ad Age has ranked the advert as the best advertising campaign of the 20th century. It has been said that it was so successful that it “did much more than boost sales and build a lifetime of brand loyalty […] The ad, […], changed the very nature of advertising—from the way it’s created to what you see as a consumer today.”
1. Just Do It- Nike
American corporation Nike, Inc, is responsible for the design, development and manufacturing of footwear. It is one of the largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel, as well as a major manufacturer of sports equipment, with revenues of up to $24 billion. The company, originally named Blue Ribbon Sports, was founded in January of 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. It was later changed to Nike after the Greek goddess of victory in 1971. As well as sponsoring athletes and sports teams world wide, they also own various secondary companies such as Nike +, Nike Golf and Nike Pro.
Just Do It was launched in 1988 and became highly successful. Nike’s slogan was described as, “a tough, take no prisoners ad campaign”. With an objective to target all Americans, disregarding their age, gender and fitness level, it turned the company’s products into fashion statements, not just work out gear. Many athletes, including basketball stars Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, were enlisted to endorse the products. The genius of “Just Do It” is its embodiment of the notion of success, using motivational slogans and the support of high-profile athletes.