The 1950s and 1960s are called the “Golden Age” of advertising. America was filled with new products that had been developed to fight World War 2, people had money in their pockets, and the baby boom created the need for housing, appliances, cars, and anything one might need to raise a family. These products needed to be sold. Advertising was the way to create that desire to own that washing machine, Cadillac, or new sofa.
I show some of the classic ads in my first term class at Art Center. They are well crafted, beautifully composed, and smart. I don’t show the ads that I really like. These would point a group down the wrong path. I like the bad ads. The corny ones are fine, and I enjoy the funny atom bomb/gum ad as much as the next guy. The ads that are depressing and contradict the message are wonderful. Rather than enticing the viewer into a product, they say, “Life is sad and banal. Nothing will ever be good.” My favorite is an ad for Nevada Warehouse Corporation. Nothing says breadth of experience, and abundance like a sad scattering of products on a black background. And I can’t wait to head over to Gray Reid’s to buy my dungarees next to the emergency room.