60s adverts

Print advertising came to life in the 60s. One of the big changes came when art directors dropped line drawings, favoured in the 50s, for photographs. People found photographs more believable and art directors and copywriters were becoming much more inventive at getting their message across.

This is small selection of some of my favourites. I've chosen them because they say something about the decade and about how people's lives were changing in big and small ways.

Food advertisements

Chivers Old English and Orange Jelly Marmalade, 1964

Chivers Marmalade, 1964

Toast and marmalade were a popular start to the day in many 60s' households. This advert, left, from 1964 shows the popular Chivers Marmalade. Chivers was in second place to Robertson's who dominated the jam and marmalade market in the 60s.

This advert shows that Dad prefers Old English Thick Cut Marmalade whereas his son prefers Orange Jelly Marmalade, just as Dad reads the newspaper and his son reads the Beano. It is an early example of the type of advert that offers you a choice, but the choice is only different variations of the same product.

The advert shows strong social attitudes. The copy stresses that husbands prefer Chivers Old English Marmalade, but it is the wives who buy it.

Go to work on an egg

Egg Marketing Board advert, 1968

Another shot in the battle for Britain's breakfast. The traditional fry up was on its way out in the 60s, with many people opting for the convenience of cereal. If only the postman had had eggs for breakfast he wouldn't look so worn out so early in the day!

Again the copy reinforces social stereotypes. His wife should have seen to it that he had bacon and eggs to start the day. If she doesn't, he is encouraged to cook them himself!

Knore mushroom sauce, 1963

Knorr sauces

Convenience foods were sexy in the 60s. No one wanted to be chopping mushrooms when they could come out of a packet. This advert stresses the convenience as well as the naturalness of the mushrooms. Knorr has already chopped them and made them into a sauce, so all you need to do is add water.

Natural and convenient - the best of both worlds.

Alcoholic drinks

Advertisements for drinks were as much about image in the 60s as they are today. Manufacturers wanted to make sure their product was still swinging with the 60s.

Gordons Gin advert, 1963

Gordon's Gin, 1963

I love this advert, right, for Gordon's Gin. You can almost taste the juniper berries. It says class and style, but is up to the minute chic as well. The caption, 'The Girl', was very hip in the early 60s. She looks upper class and sexy; the kind of woman James Bond might meet in an exclusive gambling den. She is probably an heiress to a fortune and knows what she wants.

Gordon's Gin, only the best, definitely upper class, even if you're not.

Bass beer, 1965

Bass beer, 1965

This advert for Bass, is quite the opposite. It brings out the traditional nature of beer. The colours, reds and deep oranges, are brought out in the logo, the man's pullover, the wooden crate, the bottle and the beer itself. He is just about to enjoy the beer he has just poured.  Bass is a beer for those who appreciate all its traditional qualities.

Bass was one of the oldest brews you could get in the sixties. In a world of Watneys Red Barrel it was standing up for traditional values. Nevertheless, they were traditional values that modern thinking people, like this young man, held.  The advert does not say Bass is a drink for old men, its language is very precisely targeted.

Bicardi advert, 1966

Bacardi, 1966

Bacardi Rum was rapidly gaining status as a very chic drink in the late sixties and early seventies. This advert is in a documentary style. You almost expect the copy to be talking about diving or tropical fish in the Caribbean.

The copy introduces the drink. Yes, it's rum, but not as you know it. Bacardi became a very hip in drink in the seventies and was immortalised by the line 'If you prefer a pint of mild to Bacardi and Coke', in the 'Oldest Swinger in Town' (1981) by Fred Wedlock.

Pure gold from Benson and Hedges, 1967

Cigarettes

Benson and Hedges

No discussion of advertising in the UK in the 60s can be complete without mention of the 'Pure Gold' campaign for Benson and Hedges cigarettes by Collett, Dickenson, Pearce and Partners. The later surrealistic campaign from the 70s is more well known, but the original campaign made Benson & Hedges Special Filter the UK's best selling king size cigarette.

Pure gold from Benson and Hedges, 1969

The theme running through the adverts was to suggest that the cigarettes were as valuable as pure gold. However, the charm of them is that the reader was in on the joke. You knew cigarettes were not worth as much as gold, but played along for the fun.

The advert, right, is slightly different. It equates cigarettes with fine wines. Juxtaposition, showing two unrelated things together, is a technique used in many adverts. The only similarity between the cigarettes and the wine is that you consume them, but cigarettes do not improve with age. Though the reader knows this, it is still difficult not to think of Benson and Hedges Special Filter and Chateau Lafite as being similar.

A few of my other favourites in this series are:

  • What is it that the best man never forgets?
  • What else do you need for a grand night out?
  • What do gentlemen prefer these days?
  • What is the most tempting lure for anglers these days?

The answer is always 'Pure Gold from Benson and Hedges'.

The 'Pure Gold' campaign ran into the seventies, becoming more and more sophisticated. When regulations on cigarette advertising tightened, Collect, Dickenson, Pearce and Partners came up with the surrealistic campaign which featured no words, just the packet in unusual situations.

Hoover Keymatic, 1963

Technology

Hoover Keymatic

Could a washing machine be desirable? If it was a Hoover Keymatic it could be. Like Benson and Hedges was linked with Chateau Lafite, the key to the Keymatic is as valuable as the antique keys pictured along side it.

The Hoover Keymatic was the ultimate, high tech washing machine in sixties. Many people were buying their first washing machine in the early 60s, but this baby was programmable. It used red programme cards, like a computer used punched cards. The Hoover Keymatic was one of the most sought after status symbols of the early sixties.

The selling price of  105 guineas is around 1500 in today's money.

Murphy television, 1968

Murphy Television

Murphy televisions were available in orange, red, blue, white, grey and green, but the programmes were all shown in black and white.

This advert is trying to fit in with the mood of the late sixties: trendy people, psychedelic bachelor pads etc. Though it doesn't quite get it.

There a hint of the orient in the graphic, though it is more Vesta Curry than Maharishi. The white cat too, was something of a sixties' cliché. Remember Kosset Carpets and 007's adversary, Ernst Stavro Blofeld?

I'm not convinced by the tag line either. It reveals more of a patronising attitude, a sneering at, rather than an appreciation of the new trends.

In conclusion

Advertising came of age in the 60s. The US was ahead of the UK, but the UK agencies were closing the gap. More subtle methods of persuasion were coming in along with greater a understanding of people's motivation to buy. With the 70s just around the corner, adverts from the late 60s showed a growing maturity.

Your comments on 60s adverts

"There allright i would not watch them though" Clare Davies 05/01/2011
"An interesting article. Many Thanks." minosal 07/11/2015
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