By Scott Bessell, Idea Builder, Sonnhalter
One of my more astute colleagues here at the agency suggested that I might share with you my thoughts on new communiqués of today versus yesterday. She, being a millennial, didn’t consider that I was chosen moreover because I, given my age, probably also created those “old” ads. Apologies accepted.
Driving into the creative cave today I was behind a Cadillac CTS 4. Jet black, LED lights, looking…bad (as in good, you know). Anyway, I was thinking about my former favorite caddy, from those bygone days; The 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. I would look ridiculous in either. Dissecting them both is how I offer up my opinion on today’s ads versus yesterday’s—to groans within (another Scott metaphor), here goes. The cars. Both, the new one and my ‘59, appear to us purely as style statements. Underneath, they both have a drivetrain, steering mechanism, wheels. Internally, both have seats, a steering wheel, pedals to make it stop and go and if we’re lucky, a subwoofer! So, they both did/do their jobs. In its day, the ‘59 was kick-ass no doubt. Radical and (insert 50’s adjectives here). Today the CTS is held in high esteem also. Both are powerful and comfortable modes of transportation for their times.
Ads. Stripping away the “art” and “design” of most of today’s communication vehicles, yes, even those obnoxious banner ads, like the cars mentioned previously, “underneath” they too must have something in common, and usually always do—the message.
What do you want to say to me? What would you like me to do or know? Whether it was an old ad or a new one, at their core is the message. They might date themselves by the language they use—dated colloquialisms and such. And like that last sentence, how much unnecessary BS they contain. Let’s retry that: They might show their age by their use of words and phrases popular with the people of the day. So, common to both is the message. Then, like those cars, we stylize a body for our “vehicle” so people will notice it. Ads from “back in the day” looked like it. Ads of today, at least the professional ones, look like it. Understand too that most all the ads from yesteryear were done by professionals. Back then, they didn’t have desktop publishing. Amateurs or wannabes weren’t charged with constructing the latest ad with the latest anyone-can-use software.
So, my comment about communications of yesterday versus today is they both did/do their jobs effectively in that they communicate to the viewer a message. The good ones, then and now, do it cleanly and thus clearly. The best ones get your attention and are memorable. The ones that ad managers claim were totally their own creations are the ones that get you to act and follow through. Or better yet, place an order—immediately.