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Blast to the Past: Vintage Ads That Changed the Industry

Most people don’t consider how ads shape our lives, but these six vintage ads have become ingrained in our cultural consciousness.

If you’re like most people you don’t remember most of the ads you see. Yet, you’re probably aware that now and then an ad campaign comes along that seems to slide effortlessly into the cultural landscape.

Some vintage ads become so much a part of a product’s brand that they’re remembered for decades after they’re retired. The following six ads are more than just advertising — they’re industry icons that set the bar for excellence.

Avis “We Try Harder”

Image Courtesy of Marketing Week

It’s human nature to love an underdog, and the “we try harder” ad campaign had all of America rooting for Avis. However, consumers also want to do business with winners. So, top ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach created a campaign designed to show Avis’ second-place status, turning it into a positive rather than a negative. After 50 years, the “we try harder” tagline was dropped from Avis in 2012, but the vintage ad still resonates with older consumers.

Coca-Cola “The Pause That Refreshes”

“The pause that refreshes” is another example of an ad slogan with substantial staying power. First appearing in the 1920s, this ad campaign has finally reached its centennial. When Coca-Cola was still a young company the country was on the cusp of The Great Depression. They needed a way to shine above the other soft drinks on the market. So, St. Louis ad agency D’Arcy Co. made history with the slogan, and it’s been associated with the product ever since.

De Beers “A Diamond is Forever”

This slogan has been recognized as a major change agent in the diamond industry. During The Great Depression diamond sales were low and remained stagnant even after the economy bounced back. Diamonds were seen primarily as a one-time purchase specifically for engagement rings. Diamond giant DeBeers company wanted to expand their market and as a result, hired Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayers & Son, where copywriter Mary Frances Gerety developed the “a diamond is Forever” campaign in 1948. The slogan is still reference today.

Jordan Motor Car Co. “Somewhere West of Laramie”

The Jordan Motor Car Company’s iconic ad made its debut in American living rooms in 1923 via the Saturday Evening Post. The motor ad tugged at the heartstrings of anyone who ever daydreamed about hitting the road for the American West and even threw in the promise of adventure. The ad itself was unusual for its time because it didn’t speak of engine size or cost — instead, it sold a feeling.

Morton Salt “When It Rains, It Pours”

“When it rains, it pours” is another memorable ad slogan with its roots nestled toward the end of the Progressive Era in 1914. The slogan was developed to show that Morton Salts did not clump together during rainy seasons like other salt products. The campaign was created by Philadelphia ad agency NW Ayer & Son, and today’s consumers are still heard using the saying.

Hathaway Shirts “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt”

Storytelling is one of today’s biggest trends in advertising, but it’s not a new technique. “The man in the Hathaway shirt” campaign used open-ended mystery to double the sales of Hathaway shirts in just five years. Developed by ad agency Ogilvy & Mather in the early 1950s, the campaign depicted a man with an eye patch that captured America’s collective imagination. The mysterious character of the man increased the shirts’ desirability and thus increased their sales overall.

Ready to create an ad that will become part of modern culture? Request information from Academy of Art University‘s admissions team to learn more about the School of Advertising or apply now if you’re ready to join the exciting field of advertising!

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