On the Fly: April 14

National Geographic is doing it’s own “I Love the 80s” mini-series–except NatGeo has more cache in getting good interviews over VH1. It shows. Lamar says it best “But don’t take my word for it.” Click here to jump to their page.

I particularly enjoyed the episode “The 80s: Revolutionaries.” This segment was chock full of some of my own professional heroes. Everyone, by now at least, knows ‘Mad Men’ and the Golden Age of Advertising, but what separates the 2010s ad world from that of the 1960s fleshes out an hour of TV. Thanks NatGeo for pointing out to my parents how influential my trade really is to consumer culture. Here are the four ’80s cornerstones (and one honorable mention) of the advertising industry that are still power hitters today.

Honorable mention: Street Style–East Coast v. West Coast

Street style is alternative advertising, but America has two coasts and each one has a different approach. West Coasters are always defined by their laid back look on life. Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk found success by accident in Z-Boy Stacey Peralta’s homemade videos. The DIY aspect launched an entrepreneurial spirit that carries on today especially in social media. On the other end of the country, East Coasters always seem to be on the move–and creating everywhere. Tagging evolved into an art form in the 80s spurred by the rising fame of street artists like Basquiat and Keith Haring. It’s not a secret I love looking for graffiti murals. Hitting the streets gumshoe style has taken off–spurring alternative advertising into its own force with which to be reckoned. I particularly enjoyed that the segment was set to “Rapture” by Bowery alums Blondie. This song is a kind of written embodiment of the consumerism that was running rampant throughout the ’80s.

#4: Apple’s “1984”

Ridley Scott scored another pop culture icon with his film “Blade Runner.” Then he goes on to direct one of the biggest television commercials–ever. The creative team drew from a wealth of Orson Welles’ literary masterpiece “1984,” the building excitement of L.A. hosting the summer Olympics and the bitter rivalry that was about to go down between PC and Mac. This commercial alone was so big that it launches the Super Bowl ad craze we come to expect every end of January.

#3: Calvin Klein

Even before Marty McFly’s purple panties debuted on the silver screen the name Calvin Klein exuded sex appeal in its marketing campaigns. Underage actress Brooke Shields dons a pair of CKJs for a rather racy print campaign. Then came the boys in briefs. It worked, too. Not only were the cloths flying off the shelf, but the posters were being ripped from the walls. I can’t say much. Klein’s creations make up most of my closet in terms of professional wear. Like this one.

#2: Ben & Jerry’s

Two hippies creating ice cream doesn’t seem like a big deal, but Ben and Jerry had ideals. They created a company even as they ditched the corporate style. The pair focused less on hierarchy and more on social change. It may be commonplace now, but back then it was a radical idea although not entirely unexpected from countercultural chiefs. It also tickles me that they placed such a huge emphasis on the packaging in an era when a designer couldn’t just jump into Illustrator and knock out a draft. Everything was hand drawn!

#1: Steve Jobs

What two things run the advertising industry? Apple and Adobe. Who created Apple? Steve Jobs. What am I working on right now writing this? Yep, a MacBook Pro. Jobs, however, wasn’t a one-hit wonder. Consider he created “Next” which helped produce the internet. More recently he was a driving force behind Pixar. What else is there to say? Not a thing.

The root of the game here is branding–in the biggest possible way–and consumers were taking notice. People began referring to the decade as “The Me Generation.” Tune in to the National Geographic Channel’s mini-series for more.

#natgeo80s #amforshort


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