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January 9, 2009 / davebirss

A great reason to go to the doctor’s

I’m just back from a trip to my new doctor’s surgery where I was amazed at the selection of antique magazines in the waiting room. The building couldn’t have been more than a couple of years old – so why did the magazines date back to the early 80s? It was amazing! I was stunned by a National Geographic that was only fractionally younger than a doctor I saw. I was so captivated by the vintage advertising that I thought I should share it.

What struck me was how different olde worlde advertising is to modern advertising. Most of the ads have long copy, for a start. A few of them don’t have any strapline (which keeps me happy – I think straplines are over-rated). The call to action is gentler than in current ads. And – of course – there’s no web address.

The main reason for the dramatic difference in advertising is the dramatic difference in the world. There’s more media now than there was then. People are more cynical of advertising these days (quite rightly) and want to get their information from less-biased sources like magazines, websites and forums. Businesses have more aggressive sales targets and want to encourage people to buy their shit NOW – so they demand stronger calls to action. The customer journey is often more complex – it’s not just people reading an ad and deciding to book a test-drive if they feel like it any more. And rather than a magazine having about 10 ads (like this one did) they now seem to be half advertising/half editorial and be stuffed with inserts and scratchcards and shit. That’s a lot of noise to compete with. It made me think how the job was so much simpler when I started out in the industry in the days before the internet. But as much as the job”s more complex now, I think it’s more interesting and I’m even more excited about what you can do.

So here are the ads that started all this pondering. I don’t think any of them would have troubled the D&AD judges at the time. Enjoy!

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It also made me think how dysfunctional I am. How many other people would be sad enough to take pictures of advertising like this?

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