The Power Of Vintage Advertising (That Still Persists!)

Step into the time machine, go back in the 16th century, and you will realize how traditional advertising has changed over the years. Back then, brand messages were more straightforward, layouts were far cleaner with subtle, and the copy was much, much longer.

While some elements of vintage advertising are rightly regarded as outdated tactics that no longer work in the digital age, others remain just as effective today as they were more than 60 years ago. Some brands even today follow the vintage advertising to give their product a classic, authentic and elegant feel.

Elements that still Exist!

  1. Simplicity

While old advertising methods encompass a wide range of styles that span decades and genres, some elements of decades-old ad campaigns remain pertinent even today.

Many of the ads we see today are cluttered with imagery and information that digress from the main selling point. Simple, minimalist designs cannot only evoke nostalgic feelings of a simpler time but can also prove to be more productive. Volkswagen had revolutionized this concept with its “Think Small” campaign, which was released in 1960. Before the Volkswagen campaign, car manufacturers used big, flashy, colourful fonts and figures in their ads, but Volkswagen’s did just the opposite. The company used stark, unretouched, black-and-white photographs with copy that focused on a particular facet of the car, thus contributing to the ultimate achievement and popularity of the Beetle.

  • Long Copy

While new advertisements tend to rely more on images and less on copy whereas lengthy blocks of text were a staple of vintage advertisements. Though using shorter copy seems like a viable strategy to capture the audience’s attention quickly as a consumer don’t have the time to read and lose interest, or sometimes they find it very dull. Switching to a longer copy can be beneficial for the right product that is newly launched or if there is an extended product line. One such example is evident by Cadillac’s 1915 ad, The Penalty of Leadership. Though the company doesn’t mention its cars or utilities once in the 400+ all-text advertisement, the ad was successful in maintaining the Cadillac’s brand identity, which gave it an edge over the car manufacturer’s competitors.

With the right combination of persuasion and charm, longer copy affords the opportunity to better describe the benefits and advantages of a product in an elaborative manner. Many modern advertisers have even witnessed a high interest from their audiences when utilizing lengthier text.

Similarly, a catchy attractive slogan, especially in the realm of radio advertising, became a crucial player in vintage ads. Some slogans, like M&M’s “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” have stuck with the company since the language was first used in 1954 other similar brand like ParleG with the tagline “G mane Genius”. Brands continue to intertwine this tactic into campaigns today, developing memorable slogans to use in modern advertising.

  • Bright and Colorful Imagery

A majority of vintage ads, especially those created in the 1950s and 1960s, used to play around vivid colourful images to capture their audience’s attention. The vibrancy of a decades-old campaign adds to the appeal of vintage memorabilia as antiques and collectables today. It’s been proven that colour can influence our buying mood, and certain colours produce a specific emotion. With this in mind, advertisers — both old and new — utilize this phenomenon in branding. Popular brands like Converse and Coca-Cola are particularly notable for having bright, beautiful ads in earlier decades.

  • Large, Catchy Headlines

One of the most prominent components of vintage advertisements was the use of big, bold headlines, especially in print ads. By using attention-grabbing headlines, companies were able to draw in their audience immediately. Boot company Timberland leveraged this tactic in a 2009 campaign, touting the compelling headline, “WALK THE TALK.”

  • Signature Styles

There is a range of eclectic visual styles that reflect the decade in which they were created. Contemporary designers often mix these visual, vintage elements with modern design features to ensure they still feel fresh and resonate with modern audiences. For example, to elicit a more Victorian-inspired design, advertisers can revert to circus-style typefaces, text-heavy layouts, and ornate borders. Elements like letterpress, an old printing technique that produces an engraved effect and a handmade look, are also used to create a more aged feel. These visual styles can range in creative output, yielding more muted colours and old-style typefaces, or in contrast, produce bold, retro collage-style colours like those of the Pop art movement.

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