Old School Advertising — Still Rad?

Oh, how I love old school advertising. Whether it’s for video games, basketball kicks or candy sticks, I really admire the audacity of these old campaigns.

Some people are weak for buxom blondes plastered across a Mercedes one sheet, but I’m a sucker for double page spreads with words like RAD and BODACIOUS nigh-on upper cutting the readers peripheral vision.

What’s so great about it is that it looks completely foreign in comparison to some of the campaigns we see nowadays. Look at Apple — give them a white table, a new iPhone and some really nice hands and they have an advert. They don’t need outrageous artwork with kung fu masters riding tigers through a battlefield to absorb an audience — its the lack of outrageousness that makes those adverts. Some people could call it ‘playing safe’, but those people would also have to admit it’s worked like a charm.

Simple is the name of the game for Apple.

Apple don’t need a model to bend over into precarious positions and whisper words like “lust” and “pant” to wrestle the customers into submission.

Instead, they use good ol’ Mike/Sam/Lucy/Mark/place-your-best-friends-name-here to just speak to you like a buddy and say “This iPhone is thinner and faster than ever, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it?”.

Sure, there’s always more to marketing than meets the eye, but the point still stands that they don’t need Mr. T to scream “I pity the fool who doesn’t buy the new iPhone 5 32gb model — I do!” at the audience to sell it to them.

A far cry from modern advertising.

But scream at the audience is exactly what the above advert from the late-eighties does. It’s an injection of anti-adult straight into the blood stream of any kid that found the ad in his or hers newest issue of Amazing Spider-Man.

The fear in the kids eyes.
The punk explosions peppering the boards slipstream.
The unavoidable STOP PLAYING GAMES. SKATE OR DIE.

Even in a comic featuring spider men fighting man lizards, an advert like that would be hard to miss. It even tells the reader to do exactly the opposite of what the advertisement is trying to achieve; “STOP PLAYING GAMES” is exactly not what Electronic Arts wanted the kids to do. How ballsy is that!

(I don’t think “CARRY ON PLAYING GAMES. BUY GAMES. BUY THIS GAME IN FACT. SKATE OR DIE!” would have had the same effect, though.)

This NES game provides the perfect snapshot of youth at the time of its release in 1987.

Words like “unleash”, “die” and “power” are little iota’s of badass that slick haired kids back then would have picked up on, while surfboarding a sugar rush wave of monumental proportions to The Power Of Love by Huey Lewis and the News.

It’s like one big crescendo with no build up or aftermath — just the guitar solo, minus the drums leading up to it; the firework without the fuse burning down.


But, as much as I love it, maybe this method of advertising should stay buried in the 90′s. The only way I could see it getting brought back is with an ironic twist played with it:

“Get Lynx, DUDE! It’s utterly RAD, BRO! Like, TOTALLY.”

Which is a shame, because if you can dig out any old comics or game magazines pre-2000’s, the stories and articles might not even be the best thing about them. I’m writing a love letter to what kept the lights on for those companies, not what they worked on under them.

It hurts, but I think this punk-head advertising died in the 90's, along with the T-1000 and Dolph Lundgren.

P.S: The Terminator used in the gif above is the T-800 model, but it was too fitting to not use!

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Jack Bird’s story.