Creating an enduring print advert is the marketing Holy Grail - these archetypal ads may provide some clues to how to achieve that goal.
Does a product’s advertising influence whether it will be a hit with the public or not? Can advertising elevate a product to the point that it becomes part of our culture? Would you be able to say, "that's the next big thing" just by looking at an ad? Throughout history there are products that have pushed the needle forward and in some cases become an integral part of our popular culture. Here is a look at a few print adverts for products that have gone on to become instantly recognizable or ushered in a new era of innovation.
Words: Ben Whitesell
01. Coca Cola
We all know that flowing-script logo and that trademark red, right? But what you may not know is that Coca-Cola started as an alternative to alcohol during prohibition in the US. Not only that, but it was also advertised as a health beverage with amazing medical properties.
One of the earliest ads for Coca-Cola featured an early version of that recognizable logo and commented on Coca-Cola’s ability to cure exhaustion. Today Coca-Cola is an international brand with its own cult-like following, which can be found in nearly every fast food restaurant and food market in the world. And all that from Coca Cola’s humble beginnings as a 5-cent medical elixir.
02. Ford Mustang
Few things are more iconic than a speedy red convertible on an open road. In 1964 the Ford Motor Company introduced the Mustang, and an automotive legend was born. The only automobile more successful than the launch of the Mustang was the original Ford Model T, which made mass transit possible thanks to the invention of the automotive assembly line.
The first advertising for the Mustang billed it as an adventure with a pretty blonde in the passenger seat, the convertible top down, with nothing but black asphalt in the foreground. The Mustang kicked off the muscle car revolution with nearly every major automobile company creating a version of their own.
03. McDonald’s Big Mac
In 1969 McDonald’s introduced the Big Mac with the concept that it wasn’t just a sandwich, but a whole meal. Few hamburgers can claim to be as famous, and in some cases, as infamous as the Big Mac.
While the initial advertising push was simple in its approach and included a rather catchy commercial jingle, the Big Mac later became synonymous with world health issues around the world in the late-'90s. Big Macs seemed to have weathered the storm and are currently available in countries from Argentina to the UK, and are no longer the highest calorie item on McDonald’s menu.
04. Nintendo Entertainment System
After a crash of the video game industry in 1983, Japanese company Nintendo revitalized the gaming market in 1985 with the release of Nintendo Entertainment System. Looking at their initial advertising it’s easy to see why it was marketed as the ultimate video game 'system'. It came with everything from a game console, as well as two controllers, a zapper gun, and even its own robotic buddy.
The Nintendo console dominated the market until the 1990s when stiff competition from rivals like Sega loosened Nintendo’s hold on the market. The real marvel of the Nintendo system is that it created an entire generation of gamers who have continued on to help grow the home video game market into a billion dollar a year industry.
05. Apple Macintosh
While the original Apple Macintosh computer was not a sales behemoth, it did introduce us to the graphical user interface and the mouse. It also helped propel the Apple brand and its CEO to mythical status.
Under the direction of Steve Jobs, Apple heavily leveraged print ads and commercials to help introduce the Macintosh to the world. The Ridley Scott-directed Super Bowl commercial is one of the most famous ads in the history of advertising. The accompanying print ads highlighted the elegance of using a mouse versus a keyboard.
06. Apple iPod
The Apple iPod was not the first music MP3 player on the market, but it certainly is the most successful and recognized. It only seems fitting that the first advertising for the iPod would become as iconic.
The use of black-silhouetted portraits with the contrasting white of the now-famous headphones helped make the iPod stand out in a crowd. Busy subway terminals would be filled with people with those white headphones and the advertising truly highlighted that phenomenon.
The commercial and print ads were minimal but energetic, thanks to the strong use of brightly coloured backgrounds. The iPod elevated Apple to a new status of cultural trendsetter, which has continued through Apple’s release of the iPhone and iPad.
Ben Whitesell is a media designer specializing in a variety of different types of content creation including tradition print page layout, poster design, and illustration.