The year 1969 was full of landmark historical moments. Richard
Nixon took office, Woodstock changed the face of pop music and Neil
Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon. It's also the
year, we presume, during which the final season of Mad Men will
To celebrate the AMC show's seventh season premiere Sunday, we
revisit some of the most notable advertising of the period.
This ad marked the launch of the celebrated "Virginia is for
Lovers" campaign for Virginia Department of Tourism, created out of
agency Martin & Woltz, which went on to become The Martin Agency. The print ad first
appeared in Modern Bride in March 1969 and was creative directed by
George Woltz, written by Robin McLaughlin and Barbara Ford, and art
directed by Libbie Meggs.
According to the Virginia Department of Tourism, the ad was
designed to attract a younger demographic to visit the state.
Average visitor age at the time was 50 years old, but more than
half the U.S. population was under 30. "At the time, the phrase was
considered bold, provocative, even racy," the VDT said in a 1988
release. "It was also just plain smart. Because it planted a seed
with a new generation that would become the most sought after group
of spenders to wield a credit card."
The tagline, as originally conceived by Ms. McLaughlin, read
"Virginia is for History Lovers" and "Virginia is for Beach
Lovers," but agency co-founder David Martin felt that might be too
limiting, so it was changed to simply "Virginia is for Lovers."
Pepsi: Big Town USA
BBDO, New York
And we thought ads were getting inclusive in 2014. This Pepsi classic
from 1969, part of the brand's "You've Got a Lot to Live, Pepsi's
Got a Lot to Give" campaign that ran from the late '60s through the
early '70s, according to the Archives Center of the National Museum
of American History, took pride in celebrating friendship and
romance between people of various ethnicities. (Click on icon on
bottom right of video to view.)
Johnson & Johnson: Keep a Cut
Before she was "Pretty Baby," before she was in
her Calvins, Brooke Shields played a wounded child in this spot
for Johnson & Johnson's Band-Aid brand. Created out of JWT, it
introduced Band-Aid as "The Scab Protector." The agency's work for
the product has come a long way, if you consider this cool app it created in 2012.
McDonald's: Introducing the Big Mac
McDonald's introduced its daddy of burgers,
The Big Mac, sometime in the late '60s. To help get the word out,
it released this print ad (circa 1969, according to web archivists,
but which McDonald's has not confirmed), which described the
double-decker, seeded bun mountain of deliciousness as "A Meal
Disguised as a Sandwich." Many would later go on to argue that it's
really "A Heart Attack Disguised as a Burger."
Schlitz: A Moment
1969 was the year of the third Super Bowl, a showdown between
the New York Jets and the Baltimore Colts at Miami's Orange Bowl.
Along with it, of course, came the ads. Although they hadn't yet
reached "1984" proportions, they were amusing, nonetheless. This
ad, courtesy of Schlitz and created out of Leo Burnett, is what
big-game beer advertising looked like back in the day. This ad
introduced the line, "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of
Schlitz: Golden Age of Beer
The previous ad, and this one, according to
Ad Age archives, were part of a campaign centered on the theme of
the "Golden Age of Beer." This second big-game spot starred actor
McLean Stevenson in a silly bar scene. Both Super Bowl ads were
V.O.'d by actor Jose Ferrer.
Pontiac Local Dealers: Choirboys
In an attempt to appease about 87 New York
and New Jersey Pontiac dealers, celebrated ad man George Lois
turned all of them into the stars of their own spot, which depicted
each them as angelic choir boys beckoning the locals to come into
their respective shops, where each of them could then deliver their
unique sales pitches. Mr. Lois went on to film three sequels, two
starring the choir boys and another featuring their
Esquire: Andy Warhol Drowns in His Own
While he continued to do advertising, George
Lois made a name for himself as the master of conceptual magazine
covers. His famous May 1969 opener for Esquire featured Andy Warhol
drowning in a can of Campbell's Soup -- a product that came to
symbolize the pop art movement of the time. As Mr. Lois described on his site, the cover epitomized "Esquire's
juxtaposition of the celebration of pop culture. . . as it
7-Up: The Uncola
Remember when 7Up was called the Uncola? JWT
played off the famous prefix with fun copy, as in a
Godzilla-reminiscent cityscape and a simpler product shot-driven
ad. It also delivered funky "Summer of Love"-style executions,
which were also promoted to consumers as posters they could send
Coca-Cola: Fractured History
Meanwhile, on the un-un-cola front,
Coca-Cola released these "fractured history" print ads aimed at
kids, showing how famous figures would have had it much better, had
Coke been around in their time, created out of
DDB and Volkswagen were arguably the most
famous agency-client pairing of the Mad Men era and turned out some
of the best ads of all time. This 1969 commercial for the autobrand
used the somber backdrop of a funeral to illustrate how it pays off
to be a (frugal) VW fan.
Volkswagen: Car of the Future
Another commercial showed how a "Car of the
Future" show from 1949 proved how VW makes good on its promise of
quality, many, many years later.
Volkswagen: Ugly; Economy Curve
There was smart print work as well, the most
famous of which were arguably "Think Small" and "Lemon." These
later ads that played off the 1969 moon landing as well as the
economy of the times weren't too shabby either.
American Tourister: Gorilla
DDB's wit sizzled for other clients as well,
as apparent in the famous American Tourister ad, starring a gorilla
in a "poetic" product demo.
Alka Seltzer: Mama Mia
DDB also did a clever redirect in this
classic spot that at first, appears to be promoting a pasta sauce
-- until its star has a little too much of it.
Ann-Christine Diaz is the Creativity Editor at Ad Age. She has been covering the creative world of advertising and marketing for more than a decade. Outside of the job, she can be found getting in touch with her own creativity.