Remember how much you loved the iconic ad campaigns of the past? Whether you’d “Have a Coke and a Smile” as you enjoyed a Coca-Cola, or feasted on Life cereal just because “Mikey likes it,” these ads of yesterday have stayed in our hearts and minds over time. They still define the best in advertising and have raised the bar in branding. But how will today’s profound changes among consumers, culture, and media affect what makes a campaign into an icon in the future? Forbes.com explained how the iconic campaigns of yesterday can teach marketers a lot today as they create ad campaigns for tomorrow.
Looking back at the most iconic ad campaigns, it’s clear that TV commercials were the cornerstones of the campaigns. In addition to being fun and engaging to watch, they were viewed as valuable content. They also had clever taglines, many of which are still quoted today, such as “Don’t Leave Home Without It” from American Express, “You Deserve a Break Today” from McDonald’s, and “The Ultimate Driving Machine” from BMW.
Another factor that made these campaigns so memorable was their larger empathetic message. They began with a simple idea based only on consumer insight and the personal benefit of the product. That seems incredibly simple in today’s highly analytic, data-driven environment built on complex brand platforms and marketing touchpoints. But iconic ads of yesteryear created simple “handles” to make their messages easy to remember.
All of these iconic campaigns also ran for extended periods, which allowed for increased repetition and exposure. This long span of time may be one of the reasons these ads have remained in our minds all these years.
But iconic ad campaigns aren’t only things of the past. More recent campaigns have also made a memorable impression and become modern-day advertising icons, such as Procter & Gamble’s “Thanks Mom,” Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” and the Milk Board’s “Got Milk?”
Looking forward, industry experts say that iconic ad campaigns will have a very different definition in the future. Instead of the one-way themes and messages that have proven to be so successful in the past, the emphasis will be placed on creating shared experiences that are relevant, meaningful, and let the consumer feel more connected to a brand.
1. “Have a Coke and a Smile” from Coca-Cola: This popular slogan was created in 1979 and has been resonating with audiences ever since.
2. “Mikey Likes It” from Life Cereal: Mikey, aka John Gilchrist, who was 3 1/2 when this commerical was filmed, is still involved in advertising today. He’s the director of media at MSG Networks and continues to enjoy Life Cereal.
3. “Don’t Leave Home Without It” from American Express: this ad campaign was created in 1985 by Ogilvy and Mather, a highly esteemed ad agency.
4. “You Deserve a Break Today” from McDonald’s: when Keith Reinhard of Needham, Harper & Steers thought of this slogan, many thought it was too corny. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc loved it and overruled all dissenters.
5. “The Ultimate Driving Machine” from BMW: this slogan was created as an offshoot of BMW’s German slogan, “Aus Freude Am Fahren” which translated means “The Joy of Driving.”
6. “Think Different” from Apple: although Steve Jobs was very involved in all facets of Apple’s advertising and business, he was highly critical of this ad campaign.
7. “Thanks Mom” from Procter & Gamble: the inspiration behind these emotional campaigns is the insight that behind every strong child is a strong mother.
8. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” from Old Spice: this ad campaign started off with a single commercial. Due to its tremendous success, dozens of short, improvised scenes were filmed shortly after.
9. “Campaign for Real Beauty” from Dove: this campaign has been around for over 10 years and keeps growing stronger in time.
10. “Got Milk?” from Milk Board: when this slogan was first created, many employees of ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners thought it was lazy and grammatically incorrect.
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Written by Michael Del Gigante