75 Years of Ideas

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Advertising Age is celebrating its first 75 years of service to the ad industry. We'll be sharing these moments in the pages of Ad Age along the way to the our 75th anniversary issue that will appear March 28. Next week: top ad moments No. 35-30.

40 Cigs `hazardous to your health'

Smoking tobacco had been around for centuries, and has been advertised for decades, by the time the U.S. Surgeon General issues the famous doctrine, "Smoking can be hazardous to your health," in 1964. What happens in the next 34 years-compared with those earlier hundreds of years-is nothing short of an astonishing story of an advertising meltdown. And it shows the potential for government to extinguish product marketing.

In 1965, Congress passes the Cigarette Labeling & Advertising Act, which requires tobacco makers to place health warnings on cigarette packs. A year later, and to this day, every pack of cigarettes sold in this country bears the Surgeon General's warning. Not long after, The New Yorker and several other magazines ban cigarette ads. The print industry isn't enough to make a big dent in cigarette marketing efforts, but TV is. In 1971, Congress prohibits broadcast advertising of cigarettes.

It takes until the mid-1980s and into the `90s, however, for true results. Historic in scope and number, dozens of lawsuits against cigarette makers in several states stir the attention of the country. It's easily the biggest effort yet by smoking opponents to hold the manufacturers responsible for the consequences of their products. In 1998, the tobacco industry agrees to pay $206 billion to settle state lawsuits over the public health costs of smoking.

39 Ike's `Man From Abilene'

In 1952, Rosser Reeves-the Ted Bates agency's hard-sell guru and inventor of the "Unique Selling Proposition"-creates a TV campaign for presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, positioning him as "The Man From Abilene."

For politics, the move is a new medium and an effective new tactic that eventually will make or break many candidates' aspirations.

In a series of commercials, Mr. Reeves films the Republican candidate talking about issues of the day and edits the footage together with film of people (apparently) addressing questions to the candidate. Though successful in getting the candidate elected, "Eisenhower Answers America" draws criticism, raising concerns about the effect of sales techniques on the political process.

From Doyle Dane Bernbach's stark "Daisy" spot for Lyndon B. Johnson to George H.W. Bush's notorious "Willie Horton" ad, political advertising remains a constant source of hand-wringing-renewed each election cycle-especially as media expenditures resist regulation. Despite restrictions placed on campaign fund-raising by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, and thanks to the rise of independent "527" organizations as repositories for so-called "soft money," media spending on 2004's presidential election tops $500 million, more than twice what was spent four years earlier.

38 `Pepsi Generation' and the cola wars

Pepsi-Cola Co., following a bottler revolt and marketing department shake-up, moves its account in 1960 to Kenyon & Eckhardt (which later evolves into Bozell Jacobs Kenyon & Eckhardt). Sales have been growing despite a decade-old quality strategy fronted by the theme "Be sociable-enjoy the light refreshment." But the agency embraces a new, more compelling concept: youth. It also locks two cola titans in a battle that will span decades.

By most accounts, Pepsi's agency sees the share gains of the distant No. 2 cola as a result of the swelling influence of the post-World War II baby boom. Realizing that teens drink far more cola than the traditionally targeted older twentysomethings, Pepsi agrees to focus on the increasingly potent youth market. Its initial attempt comes in 1961 with Pepsi's first campaign of the new decade, themed "Now, it's Pepsi, for those who think young." Pepsi spends more than $10 million on the campaign, which prompts Coca-Cola Co.'s ubiquity strategy, in reply. The cola giant's "Things go better with Coke" theme washes over every communication medium from packaging to advertising.

Outspent nearly 4-to-1, Pepsi promises $36 million for its youth theme and amid the height of the British Invasion in September 1964 unveils "Come alive, you're the Pepsi Generation." The advertising's attractive, fresh-faced happy youth, without a care in the world, represent the start of marketing product as a lifestyle brand toward a narrowly defined demographic niche.

37 Nielsen tracks share of market

Arthur Charles Nielsen is a man who can build the measuring sticks that advertisers so ardently desire. In 1933, Mr. Nielsen introduces the Nielsen Food & Drug Index, a gauge of retail sales based on statistical sampling. He also coins the term "share of market" and sells his data to manufacturers. This effectively ushers in the era of modern market research that affects nearly every marketing decision today.

Similarly, Mr. Nielsen pioneers the field of media measurement in 1936 when he patents the Audimeter, a device for measuring radio listenership, and later adapts the system to track TV viewing habits.

Nielsen Media Research, the descendant of Mr. Nielsen's original media measurement business, remains the dominant-if often challenged-standard for tracking viewership and determining advertising rates. Meanwhile, the demand for precise metrics, fueled by the accountability provided by Internet advertising, continues to take center stage in the industry.

36 Beverages go `light'-ly

Beverage companies have grown their businesses substantially over the years with the addition of "diet," "light" or even "lite" versions. And considering the importance of the brand, it makes sense to include that low-calorie attribute in the product's name. In 1963, Pepsi-Cola Co. goes after Coca-Cola Co.'s successful Tab franchise with a Patio diet cola brand that in 1964 is replaced by 1-calorie Diet Pepsi.

A half-calorie Pepsi Light line debuts in 1975, and Coca-Cola adds the first-ever extension to the Coke brand with Diet Coke in `82.

In the beer business, Miller Brewing Co. changes the category forever in 1975 with the launch of Lite (and the classic "Tastes great, less filling" tagline). Anheuser-Busch follows in '82 with Bud Light.

The early entries pave the way for today's sea of diet foods that change with every passing trend, most recently low-carb diets that soda and beer marketers have likewise played to with new entries, among them Coke's midcalorie C2, Pepsi Edge and Michelob Ultra.

contributing: Jim Hanas, Kate MacArthur, Rich Thomaselli, Stephanie Thompson

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