The Sixties: A Creative Revolution

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(Kludgebox/Flickr)

Society was rapidly changing in the sixties, and so was advertising and marketing, a period called “The Creative Revolution” by the American Advertising Museum. Along with my ad agency colleagues, I visited the museum located in Portland, Ore., several years ago.

“The memorable ads of the era mastered the language of television, rewrote the rules for print, and brought photography onto the main stage,” reads a museum handout. “They dramatized the product with wit, humor and understatement.”

Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy and Leo Burnett were three of the guiding creative forces of the revolution. Bernbach produced one of history’s most famous campaigns, featuring the Volkswagen Beetle. Ogilvy’s rise was tied to Rolls-Royce, Hathaway shirts and Schweppes. And Burnett was the creative mastermind behind the Marlboro Man and Jolly Green Giant (Ho! Ho! Ho!).

In the midst of our digital infotainment revolution, do wit, humor and understatement still have a place in advertising and marketing?

I’d say yes to wit and humor, depending on the product or service, but understatement is probably far too subtle for most people’s overloaded senses.