How social, cultural and historical events effect

adverts In this essay I am going to show how social, cultural and historical events can effect adverts on TV. Lots of factors effect adverts such as the economy, teenage culture and oil shortages. All these things caused adverts to evolve over the years to what they are today.


Background of adverts
The first adverts on TV appeared in 1955 when the first commercial network – ITV was launched. In 1955 televisions were still a novelty as there was not much money around and rationing was still in force so only the middle classes could afford them. In this time life was more gentile and the adverts followed this, all the advert personalities were well-spoken middle class people who set an example. This is reflected in the first advert which was for Persil – it was aimed at middle class women as they could afford televisions and played on the mothers instinct to do the best for her children. Then in the middle 50’s a company called radio rentals started renting out televisions so more and more people could afford them.

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1950’s
In the 1950’s commercials were very different than they are today – they were short and repetitive and very innocent not like today’s. They relied heavily on Jingles as they stuck in people’s minds and reminded them of the product while they were shopping. There importance is shown in this quote:
‘Jingles, jingles, jingles – part of the culture of the 1950’s’ – Dr Newson, Child research unit Nottingham University.


Children quickly picked up on these Jingles so much so that they began to replace nursery rhymes as entertainment for the children.


The innocence of the day is shown in adverts where puppets were used in any scenes that used hugging or kissing because adults doing it was considered too obscene for television.


All the children were properly dressed so that they all looked like mini adults and this reflects the culture of the time where all children were perfect, and men went out to work while the women stayed at home cooking and cleaning.


The use of children to sell to the mother
In the 1950’s it was still legal for adverts to tell mothers that unless they bought a certain product then they were bad mothers.


In this time there was no central heating and illness was more common and the advertisers picked up this.


The adverts sold health to the mothers by claiming things that weren’t true but sounded good such as the Bovril adverts.


This increased when the Flu eperdemic broke out and adverts such as lucozade and Vic vapour rub played on the mothers fears, and they bought the products so people didn’t think they were bad parents.


Children were also very useful because they could repeat things by asking questions and this allowed advertisers to hammer there points into mothers many times. If the information was just repeated it would be annoying and obvious but children asking questions is natural and innocent, and so was very effective.


Also because of the innocence of the age a lot of adverts were allowed on TV that wouldn’t be now. A cereal advert promised to give away a penknife in every box, which would be considered atrocious now. Also there was a blow up Noddy given away with the slogan ‘Ring my bell’. Today Noddy is considered a gay icon and was banned for a time and a blow up version with that slogan would have made it much worse.


1960’s
In the 1960’s pocket money started to take because the economy was stabilising of so children had there own money to spend. Advertisers soon picked up on this with adverts aimed specifically at children. Walls ice cream split children into three discrete groups – Adventurers, Hungry horreses and Little madams and produced an advert for each. The adventurers ice creams were shaped like rockets and things and the adverts involved adventure. Hungry horreses wanted as much ice cream they could get with their money so the adverts showed large ice creams. Little madams wanted to be awkward and the adverts displayed this with the child getting what they wanted at the end.


In the 1960’s legislation was passed which meant that advertisers could not tell mothers to buy things or they were bad parents. So the advertisers used words to try to get around this. It also said that kids weren’t allowed to pester mum for things. Rowntrees could no longer use there phrase ‘don’t forget the fruit gums mum’ so they changed mum to chum to get around the legislation. This kind of clever word use is still in use toady – Carlsberg probably the best lager in the world.


Advertisers also started to use cartoons in their adverts this was for a number of reasons. If children didn’t like the presenter of an advert they didn’t buy the product so cartoons were used instead of people. They could also get away with more in cartoons – violence, kissing etc.


Cartoons still had their limits though as was shown with Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. He started out aggressive with sharp teeth but this didn’t work so he was turned into a loveable loser with filled down teeth.


‘Children under the age of 11 are very sex stereotypical’ – Felicity Randolph, Managing director of Young Directions.


This quote explains the style of adverts for young children that is still used today – boys have macho toys (action man) and girls have homely toys (dolls houses).


Most of the adverts for children were competitive between boys and girls and advertisers discovered something, which can be seen all through these adverts. Boys cannot accept a girl winning and will not buy the product as a result whereas girls can accept boys winning so it doesn’t change their view of the product.


Another change in adverts in the 60’s was that children in adverts were no longer perfect and more adverts used mischievous ones instead because of the changes in discipline especially in schools.


However only mischievous boys were used and not girls but all the children were no longer middle class. They also used gangs of these children that appealed to the children.


In 1965 there was a big leap in advertising when they started using pop songs in the adverts and they also had children imitate the bands, as it was popular. Also toddlers were used for the first time because mums found them cute so they sold products.


Another massive leap in 1965 was the introduction of colour television because it meant adverts could present their ideas in a whole new dimension.


In the 60’s many things were different than they are today which affected the adverts. Things include the use of Golly wogs and people washing behind screens whereas now adverts use full nudity with strategically placed limbs and bottles.


Selling to teenagers
In the 1960’s teenagers began to leave school and go to work so they earn’t money but stayed at home and so didn’t have to pay for accommodation etc. This meant they had a high disposable income. However the first adverts for teenagers didn’t work very well because all the teenagers in them were miniature adults with no individuality. Then came the rock and roll adverts that gave teenager’s there own personalities with there own music styles and interests.


In the mid 1960’s the youth culture is taking over everything and this is used as a platform to sell to all ages. Teenage values were the new social acceptable.


Adverts used this to sell products to children and adults by making them thing that buying teenage products made them cool.


This was shown in the Rice Krispie adverts, which used to be aimed at children but now had the rolling stones on the adverts to sell to teenagers.


Again advertisers played on the teenagers fears although these were different than the mothers. Teenagers were afraid of bad breath, spots and body odour and so adverts promised to rid them of all of this e.g. the Colgate ring of confidence.


Then in 1969 lots of teenagers got involved in demonstrations and were seen as rebels and yobs. The advertisers then immediately dropped teenagers from adverts in case they alienated all the other age groups and started using children again.


1970’s
In the 70’s there was a lot of youth unemployment, oil problems because OPEC (Organisation for petroleum exporting countries) charged more for oil which caused a lack of power and in some cases a 4-day week. It also caused many factories to close so there was little money. This caused a change in adverts from the 60’s.


Children in the 70’s
In the 70’s more lifelike children were used that were not well behaved and not perfect. It also didn’t matter if they got words or sentences wrong in the adverts because it was seen as cute by the public.


The 70’s were also the first time that regional accents were used instead of posh middle class ones (received pronunciation) and this appealed to the lower classes.


The kids also reminded parents of the ideal lifestyle that they used to have and so they paid attention.


‘School days are the happiest of your life, except they weren’t at the time’ – Barry Day, Vice chairman Lintas worldwide.


I have added this quote just to show how powerful images of youth can be for adults and can encourage them to buy products.


This type of nostalgia is still being used today with adverts like the Hovis advert, which is, still used toady for that purpose.


Adverts tried to tell mums that it was okay to stay at home to look after the kids (and buy the advertisers products!) instead of going to work.


In the 70’s adverts still portrayed the perfect family whereas in real life the divorce rate as the highest ever and there weren’t many ideal families.


Another important development was the contraceptive pill which meant that women could make there own choice about family’s and many women put their career first instead.


Women take control
By the late 70’s women were taking more control of there lives and started going to work leaving men at home to do the housework and look after the children. This changed adverts for household products because now they had to be aimed at men as well as women.


1980’s
In the Thatcher years there was lots of money around with yuppies spending money just to show how wealthy they were. Consumers were also more conspicuous. Inflation went up and this caused house prices to skyrocket.


The adverts of the 80’s still used children a lot but they were more adult and less nieve and they grew up quicker. Also children were allowed to roam around whereas now peadophiles and things stop this.


Advertisers also tried to combine children with comedy to sell to adults by using children with adult voices such as the Frank Bruno/Harry carpenter advert and the Hugh Lawrie/Stephen Fry one. This proved very popular.


The 1980’s also saw a return to pester power in adverts with children influencing what the family ate for the first time. Advertisers returned to targeting adverts at children so that they pestered to their parents for them. They also used they buy this or else approach again with the Weetabix slogan ‘Weetabix if you know what’s good for you’ which is a clever double entendre.


Adverts also started using streetwise kids with the ready break advert showing a kid pretending to be Michael Jackson. Still children were influencing everything and so were used more than ever. They used children because they pick up everything such as scientific bits, which they repeat, to adults. The adverts were also training young people to be consumers so that they would but the advertisers products in the future.


1980’s teenagers
In the 1980’s banks picked up on the fact that teenagers had a large disposable income. They used adverts promising credit cards and cash machines but did not mention things like APR or that they would have to pay the money back in the future.


In 1987 the first condom advert came on TV and it was aimed at teenagers which wouldn’t be allowed now. It also saw the first anti-advert, which tried to show that drugs could kill. However advertisers weren’t allowed to show sanitary towels or tampons these couldn’t be shown until the 90’s.


The 80’s advert also used nostalgia with 50’s sports cars and lifestyle used to appeal to adults who were children at the time.


The 1980’s also saw the first contrapuntal imagery (the Pepe raindance advert) – two separate images running at the same time and this proved to be extremely effective and has been used ever since.


1990’s
In the 90’s adverts are much less innocent than they were in the beginning with a lot of them having a comedy theme. A lot more subjects are socially acceptable in this time than in the 50’s and 60’s. However some adverts that used to be allowed have been banned now because of an increased concern in health. Cigarette adverts have been banned because we are now aware that they cause lung cancer.


There are a lot more anti adverts such as drugs and drink and there are also adverts that use very hard-core imagery of people suffering to get there message across (Oxfam, NSPCC etc.)
Conclusion
Since the beginning of television advertising in 1955, adverts have evolved with the times and are affected by lots of social, cultural and historical events. In fact so much so that adverts from one year can be quite unrecognisable from ones a few years later. So I think that social, cultural and historical events have played a major role in television advertising and will continue to do so for a long time to come.