Photo: 1960s magazine advertisement for Crown Topper

By the time the Nifty Fifties rolled in, advertisements started to reach a wider range of consumers. The use of traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, and the radio were still vital throughout the next decade as people have only mastered the language of television by the 1960s. Going back, however, the rise of unprecedented costs for advertising was to be expected due to consumerism catching up after World War II had ended in 1945.

Various products including clothing, appliances, and even automobiles were in short supply during the war, thus the pent-up demand for such products helped the growth for companies. These companies continued the steady manufacture of their products to keep up with the stipulation brought along by those affected by the six-year war. Companies competed against each other to maintain high consumer demand and loyalty, thus they continued to release various “new and improved” products to offer their consumer audience.


Photo: 1950s ad for Maybelline’s “New Magic Mascara”

People welcomed the 60s, and advertising welcomed its “coming of age.” The use of television by means to advertise gradually increased. Not only that, the Swinging Sixties was a time for “creative revolution” in the advertising industry – traditional styles were discarded in favour of “new advertising” formats. Instead of the old “feel good” motif, ads became much more humorous in an ironic and self-deprecating way. This became quite problematic as many ads received flack and criticism from the concerned public, but who’s to say that it didn’t work?


Photo: Avis – “We Try Harder” launched in 1963

In truth, the creative revolution was the most important aspect from the 60s that modern advertising has adapted. This included the feature of large, eye-catching visuals matched with minimal copies. Print ads also began taking on a more realistic look with the rise of photography, and relied less on the use of manual illustrations. Most advertisements also depended on the big idea itself rather than adding tons of information on very limited space. These newer ads combined simplicity and minimalism. It was then in the very early 60s that one of the most renowned advertising campaigns in history came to be.

Under the supervision of Doyle Dane Bernbach, Julien Koenig teamed up with Helmut Krone for the creation of “Think Small” and “Lemon” for the promotion of Volkswagen’s tiny Beetle cars. It was the first time that anyone broke a valued unspoken “rule” in advertising and employed negativity in advertising a product’s features. In other words: advertising an item with complete honesty. The Beatle was something peculiar among a country obsessed with powered muscle cars, described as a “compact, strange-looking automobile.” Not to mention, it was a car manufactured in a plant built by the Nazis in Germany, which proved to be the most difficult part of selling the car to potential Jewish buyers.


Photo: VW Beetle – “Think Small” & “Lemon” written in 1959, released in the early 1960sAdvertising has come a long way, changing after every decade, although these two decades might just have been the most influential. People started mastering the language of television, and the use of photography grew rampant. Styles changed, and the minimalist trend rose in popularity as opposed to continuing the trend of bright colors and hard-selling products by bombarding them with all and every information available. The Nifty Fifties and Swinging Sixties were truly the peak of advertising.