Ads that shaped the world

February 8, 2019 10:09 AM The Week Bureau

If watching one episode of Mad Men made you think of a career in advertising or at least google ‘cool advertisements’, then you are not the only one. It’s totally reasonable to be enticed by the glorious lifestyle of Don Draper and how he is able to be so creative about selling any product that comes his way. Advertisements, whether one likes it or not, is a huge part of modern day culture. Whether it be a gigantic poster of a woman holding onto her night cream or repeating spam emails from a hotel booking company, ads have shaped the way we buy products as well as choose services. Here are five such legendary advertisements launched by various companies that have shaped the world of advertisement into what it is today.

Got Milk?
California Milk Processor Board

This ad was credited to largely increase the purchase of milk in California when it was launched in 1993 by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board. And boy, did they do a good job. It all started when a team led by Jon Steel, a partner at the firm led a study where they asked participants to not consume milk for a week before participating. Safe to say, the participants were quite anxious as milk was and is a staple part of household food consumption, though not as glorified. As a stand-alone produce, milk doesn’t have much of a value but it’s essential to make a dish work, like adding milk to cereal or dipping a Parle-G. So, the team played with this angle and came up with the seemingly blatant catch-phrase ‘Got milk?’ cautioning consumers to check for milk before opening a box of cookies. The ad campaign worked wonders for the California Milk Processor Board, especially after they released pictures with famous celebrities or figures with a milk moustache, looking at the camera asking, “Got milk?” And now, 25 years later, it’s still talked about as well as embraced by the meme culture.

Just Do It
If one can believe it, Nike’s world famous phrase came from a man’s last words before an execution. Dan Wieden, an advertising executive, who co-founded the Wieden+Kennedy agency, heard the last words of Gary Gilmore, “Let’s do it”. The phrase ‘do it’ stuck in Wieden’s mind and he proposed the catchphrase ‘Just do it’ to Nike and the rest is history. The ‘Just do it’ campaign increased the sales of Nike’s products in North America from 8% to 13% in just 10 years from 1988 to 1998. The Nike’s just do it ads have also been praised for their unorthodox and groundbreaking idea, for instance in 1995 they focused on women’s rights in athletics with its ‘If You Let Me Play’ ad. They also featured Ric Munoz, a Los Angeles marathon runner who was HIV positive. This way they were able to outshine their biggest competitor ‘Reebok’, making Nike a brand with a fashion-statement rather than just a sports gear.

I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke
The Coca-Cola Company

It all started with a fog and the redirecting of a plane. In 1971, Bill Backer, who worked on the Coca-Cola account for an advertising firm called McCann Erickson, was returning from London to America when his plane had to land in Ireland due to fog. Naturally, the passengers were annoyed and agitated but the next day he saw the same passengers chatting and smiling whilst drinking a bottle of coke. Inspired by the scene, he took a napkin and wrote down “I’d like to buy the world a coke, and keep it company”. He then took this song to America and produced a video of people from all ethnicity, color, and creed singing the anthem on a hilltop whilst holding a bottle of coke in their hands. Safe to say, the anthem struck a chord and has helped Coca-Cola become one of the most loved products of all time. 

Gorilla On Drums

After the discovery of salmonella bacteria in Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, their sales dropped quite heavily. Therefore, Cadbury signed a contract with advertising agency Fallon London that came up with something quirky and fascinating that would somehow confuse as well as interest viewers. And a gorilla playing the drums on Phil Collins’s “In the air tonight” did just that. The ad is a minute long video of a gorilla in a state of ecstasy, drumming with full passion with no hint of Dairy Milk. According to the Argentinian director Juan Cabral, who directed the ad, the meaning of the video was that Dairy Milk made you feel good. First appearing in British Television in 2007, the ad has aired in many countries all over the world and that too with positive reception. A polling company YouGov reported that public perception of the brand had noticeably improved in the period following the launch, reversing the decline experienced in the first half of 2007.

Think Small

During the 1950s owning a car was more of a luxury, a ticket to bragging rights, rather than what one uses to drop their kid off at school. So, most ads for cars were flashy or exaggerated. Then came along Volkswagen’s Beetle, a small car that had no aesthetic appeal whatsoever and Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency needed a way to sell them. For this, they took out the oldest trick in the book – honesty added with a bit of a dry humor. The headline for the print ad read ‘Think small’, with a small picture of the car in a huge white background, and text telling readers the car is in fact slow and doesn’t look that good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ‘cool’. The text for the ad was as nonchalant as the entire print. The campaign was such a success that it not only boosted the sales but built a lifelong legacy and brand loyalty, making Volkswagen a go-to brand for any automobile lover.

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