16 Apr 12
Take A Retro Ad Break
by Diane Bruce
If, like me, you were one of the 98,000 viewers eagerly awaiting the return of the critically acclaimed US drama Mad Men after a hiatus of nearly 2 years, you would have experienced some retro ads during the first 2 episodes. Mad Men the TV show not only transported viewers to another decade, they also got to relive adverts from another era as they travelled back in time to the sixties.
Sky Media's Managing Director Nick Milligan said: "Taking our inspiration from the series, we wanted to give our viewers the opportunity to enjoy adverts from the era of Mad Men and to create real event programming.” So, were these classics enjoyed? And were ads any better in the 60’s?
They certainly made a deep impression. Who doesn’t remember the Milk Tray ads in which a black-sweatered hero dives into ravines and jumps on to moving trains – "and all because the lady loves Milk Tray"? Go To Work On An Egg featuring Tony Hancock? Or how about a young Lesley Ash being versed in the merits of mild green Fairy Liquid? Although, I’m not sure they always made sense. How could a Mars a day help you rest, as well as work and play?
They remind us not just of more innocent times but of an age of things – of chocolate, baked beans, Playtex girdles, deodorants, washing powders, instant mash, toothpaste, detergents and domestic holidays.
Contrast them with today's ads which might be more technically accomplished and visually satisfying. Take, for example, Vodafone who has recruited the 900 year old Jedi master, Yoda from George Lucas’ Star Wars, now seen ten-pin bowling in their latest ads. Or Andrex who introduced a digital puppy Shock! Horror! It’s hard to turn on your favourite TV show, sporting event or movie without seeing another “oh so clever” car advertisement.
However, viewers are also bombarded with ads for price comparison websites, prompted by the unsubtle suggestions of meerkats and fat opera singers. I wonder what Don Draper’s opinion would be on this type of advertising? Go compare…