by Ryan Evans
Jun 13 '16

Best Ads of all Time

Most ads are terrible. They are annoying, thoughtless and usually ineffective. But every now and then, an ad captures your attention. Sometimes for a split second and sometimes forever. These ads have commanded attention, changed industries and even impacted presidential races.

Best ads 1900 - 1970

At the turn of the century, manufacturers introduced new production techniques, standardized products and dramatically expanded markets. Total advertising in the United States grew from about $200 million in 1880 to nearly $3 billion in 1920.

Influenced by the work of Freud, advertisers believed that human instincts could be harnessed and manipulated into purchasing. Turns out they were were right.

Best ads of the 1970s

During the 1970s, an average American consumer was exposed to 1,600 ads per day. Why? TV of course. By the mid-seventies, 70 million U.S. homes owned at least one TV set and watched TV six hours per day. This was the era when advertisers starting to take brand position seriously and was the first times they featured minorities in ads.

Best ads of the 1980s

Cable TV reshaped TV industry during the 80s. Cable channels prospered, displacing the power of the mass audience of traditional broadcast networks. With increasingly diffuse audiences, advertisers could tailor ads..

The VCR allowed viewers to control the programs available to them and skip ads. Agencies started shifting to 15-second shows to reduce the cost per ad. The shorter sports crammed more product information into each ad. The combination of the VCR and shorter spots pushed ads to entertain and grab attention.

Best ads of the 1990s

As the baby boom generation aged, the birth rate in the U.S. declined and family units became smaller. Immigrant and minority groups grew, the population shifted toward the Sunbelt states and new market segments emerged.

Online advertising was born during in the 90s with the first banner ad launched in 1994, but it was still too early to attract large ad buys. In fact, most of the money burned by dot com companies was still spent on traditional advertising.

Best ads of the 2000s to today

Broadband went from a rarity to a commodity. DVRs ushered in nearly complete control for viewers of programing and ads. And online ads went from minuscule to massive, overtaking TV spending in 2016.

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