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Conspicuous consumption – In the 1950s it was just starting – teens and pre-teens were still in the minority and not considered a major source of consumer dollars in those days. It was still the older generation and everything was geared towards the nuclear family – the two-car garage, the outdoor barbecue – the split-level ranch-style home – a life in the suburbs and kids who were, day after day, getting older and more plentiful. One day they would become a force to be reckoned with.
Come 1960, it began to change – you could hear it on the radio. More stations were finding ratings skyrocketing when they changed formats to top-40 and more stations were making the switch. Only a few years earlier it was considered a novelty; something to give lip service to. But something else was brewing; a change in the direction towards youth, and youthfulness; a youthful state of mind. To be young and fit was to be ideal. To at least stop thinking in terms of the tried-and-true. Maybe some of that coincided with the Kennedy Years and the search for a meaning to life. We were in the midst of a Cold War; one which could have spelled doom for the planet at any given time – a state of mind that cried out for some sort of distraction, or at least looking at a different way of doing things.
And with those social upheavals came that Greek Chorus to a moment in time; Advertising.
Commercials are interesting things, particularly radio commercials. TV tends to spell things out in big broad letters, and the audience is fixed on the visual presentation. Radio is different; it’s sneaky. You are bombarded by slogans and jingles and forget about them until some point, years later, when a phrase gets stuck in your head and won’t come out.
In a rather unorthodox way, this is what this post is about; gathering together a bunch of radio commercials you may have remembered vividly at the time – which drifted into the ozone and forgotten about since.
Bear in mind – this is only a one-hour sampling of ten years worth of commercials – and because of that, this is one of several projected parts I’m planning on doing over the next few months – some on the same theme and some covering different areas.
The 60s were a fascinating decade in the sense that a lot of it underwent change; some for the better and some for the questionable. This initial batch of radio spots runs the gamut from cars to underwear – the unifying feature is that they were all played on top-40 radio at the time and had, in some form or fashion, direct or indirect appeal to the Youth market. Top 40 radio ran its fair share of cigarette and Beer commercials. A goodly chunk of teenagers in the 60s did both. I’ve left the cigarette commercials out, saving them for another post of their own. Some of the commercials are cringe-worthy in our social views on things at the time, particularly of Women. But this is a slice of what we were all about and what we were listening to at the time – it’s not to point fingers or cast judgments; it’s history and it’s Popular Culture, and it’s Conspicuous Consumption on a grand American scale.
So with that in mind – hit the play button and prepare to be deluged by things you may have forgotten, were hoping not to be reminded of or things you’ve never heard before.
Have at it.