We're Getting Dumber

Flipping through some National Geographic’s from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that I recently acquired, I came across several wonderful ads. Picking up a Men's Health magazine from present time, I instantly saw huge contrast. Of course the products have changed greatly and the design has evolved a lot, but what stood out to me was the difference in level of sophistication. Advertisements from the past were intelligent, well-thought-out, neatly crafted pieces of artwork. Ads in current magazines are quick, dumbed-down versions of what an ad should be and do. Part of this can be attributed to the greater importance of branding, but that importance comes from a diluted market, an audience with no patience, and an undereducated younger generation. Compare these two Cadillac ads with a difference of 35-40 years for example, Cadillac Ad from the 60s Cadillac ad from 2007 If we weren't in such a hurry and hadn't become so jaded by a huge influx of ads, we'd sit and read the copy of the first. It sells a lifestyle, an idea. It's smart and to the point, it gets me interested in owning a Cadillac. The second slaps a flashy picture of a car, some generic stats, and a dull, cheesy line and hopes to bank off of an already established brand. Or take this 60s Kellogg ad for example, Kellogg Ad from the 60s They started with a specific goal: to convince parents that it's easy to get nutrition in a child with Frosted Flakes. Then they executed their ad in a focused, problem-solving manner to reach that goal: tell parents how they can get nutrition in their children with Frosted Flakes. It starts with an obvious statement that gets them interested, leads into finely tuned copy to get a point across, and ends with an effective tag to polish it off. Contrast that with today's cereal ads that place a celebrity in the picture in hopes to grab attention or simply show a large image of sugary cereal or a flashy cartoon character. Are there exceptions to this? Of course there are great ads now and terrible ads from 30 years ago. But as general statement, advertisements seem dumber now. Are we too dumb to get it? Impatient? Fed up with it? Victims of awesome branding? Probably a combination of it all.

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By: John

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