We spend so much of our time in advertising looking forward, that we often don’t have the time to look back, taking the present for granted as a result.

 

Which is a shame – because, as every hackneyed history graduate knows, not knowing the past will leave us making the same mistakes over and over (like war, economic crises or adverts that feature footballers).

 

Writing as a hackneyed history graduate who works for a results focussed advertising agency, I particularly appreciated coming across the History of Advertising Trust’s website and its brilliant archive of historical (both recent and old) adverts.

 

If you haven’t seen it, do check it out. Not only is it a great resource and inspiration, but it also allows us to take a longer view of our own period.

 

The first instinct, to laugh at the naïve, pre-Edward Bernays style (that relied largely on quantitative descriptions of USPs), gives way to a humbler notion that good advertising is entirely contextual and that our current fashions will look just as quaint to those looking back at today’s advertising culture.

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By Oliver Brown