From Mass to Targeted Markets, 1970s–2000s

Cable television and later the Internet changed broadcasting into narrowcasting. This technology allowed media firms and advertisers to divide consumers into ever more specific markets. They created channels such as MTV, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, HGTV, and the Fishing Channel. Advertisers used these outlets to link buying to distinct lifestyles.

Trends, 1970s–2000s

1970–1971: The federal government ends cigarette advertising on television.
1980s: Regional agencies grew even as large conglomerates emerged.
1986: The “big bang” merger of Needham Harper, DDB, and BBDO created the world’s largest advertising company, Omnicom.
1990s: Agencies offered integrated marketing that included many sales techniques and platforms.
1994: Hotwired became the first website to sell advertising space.
1996:
Creation of Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.
1998: Google was established.
2000: More advertisers put their money into cable rather than broadcast television.
2000s: TiVo and other devices allowed consumers to skip ads.
2007: Facebook introduced advertising.
2007: Television series Mad Men debuted.
2014: Spending on Internet advertising rose dramatically

Who spent the most on advertising?

Packaged goods, tobacco, auto manufacturers, and communication companies.

Top spenders in 1985:

  • Procter & Gamble
  • Philip Morris
  • RJR Nabisco

Top spenders in 1995:

  • Procter & Gamble     
  • Philip Morris Cos.     
  • General Motors

Top spenders in 2001:

  • General Motors
  • Procter & Gamble
  • AOL Time Warner

Where was advertising?

Websites, social media sites, email, cable television, clothing, broadcast TV, radio, magazines, billboards, direct mail, packaging, buildings, newspapers.     

Who made advertising?

Creative teams, account agents, market researchers, direct marketers working in global conglomerates; small, independents and regional agencies; agencies focused on niche markets like youth, Latinos, and African American consumers.

MTV

Debuting in 1981, MTV defined niche markets and changed the look of advertising. Must-see videos and frenetic advertising attracted a youthful audience and put off older viewers, intentionally creating a narrow community of consumers. Although the music channel had difficulty securing sponsors at first, it ultimately achieved success. VJs promoted artists, sold music, and positioned brands in a seamless mix of performance, video art, and advertising.

Advertising poster for MTV, about 1990

Advertising poster for MTV, about 1990

MTV Moon Man, 1981–1982

MTV Moon Man, 1981–1982

MTV T-shirt, 1980s

MTV T-shirt, 1980s

MTV button, 1982

MTV button, 1982

Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman

Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman

In the early 1980s, Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman formed Fred/Alan, Inc, an advertising agency focused on youth markets, and created the look of MTV, Nick-at-Nite, and VH-1.

Courtesy of Fred Seibert

Latino Marketing

In the 1960s and 1970s, Latinos in advertising and Spanish-language broadcasting advocated for the buying power of Latino consumers. Latin American immigrants entered the ad industry and eventually opened agencies of their own that focused on recognizing and defining the market. The founding of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies in 1996 marked a turning point, as Latinos in the U.S. grew in numbers and became more visible as consumers.

Infographic by Jonathan A. Barrera Mikulich, 2011

Infographic by Jonathan A. Barrera Mikulich, 2011

Concept & design: Jonathan Barrera Mikulich

Tere A. Zubizarreta

Tere A. Zubizarreta

A native of Cuba, Tere A. Zubizarreta immigrated to the United States in 1960 and started Zubi in 1976, one of the largest advertising firms focused on a diverse Latino market. She became the first Hispanic woman elected to the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.

Courtesy of Zubi Advertising

“Erase Stereotypes.”

Zubi agency slogan

Super Bowl

Athletes and sports events have long been used to sell products, but in the 1980s, the Super Bowl became the biggest marketing event in American history. It defied the move to niche markets and captured a mass audience: usually fifty percent of all U.S. households and millions of foreign viewers. In the 2010s, the Super Bowl remained the most expensive venue for television advertising and a showcase for the industry’s most creative work.

Terry Bradshaw’s Superbowl Ring,1978 (reproduction)

Terry Bradshaw’s Superbowl Ring,1978 (reproduction)

Public Service

From Smokey the Bear to the Truth Campaign, public service announcements (PSAs) and issue advertising raised awareness and changed consumer behavior. PSAs became a mandated part of advertising with the Communications Act of 1934, which required broadcasters to serve the public interest. Since the 1970s, creators of PSAs used all the tools of commercial advertising to target young people in an attempt to ingrain positive habits.

In 1985, Vince and Larry, crash test dummies, began starring in an award-winning PSA campaign about auto safety.  Reworking traditionally serious auto safety PSAs, creators Jim Ferguson and Joel Machak at Leo Burnett humorously conveyed the message that Americans should buckle up!

Jim Ferguson, Joel Machak, and creative team at Leo Burnett accept Clio Award for Crash Test Dummies PSA, 1986

Jim Ferguson, Joel Machak, and creative team at Leo Burnett accept Clio Award for Crash Test Dummies PSA, 1986

Larry the crash test dummy's head, 1980s

Vince the crash test dummy's head, 1980s

Vince the crash test dummy's leg, 1980s

Larry the crash test dummy's arm, 1980s

Larry the crash test dummy's costume, 1990s

Vince the crash test dummy's costume, 1980s

Clio Award for Crash Test Dummies ad campaign, 1986

Globalization

A wave of mergers in the 1980s created five huge multi-national advertising companies. At the same time, however, small independents and regional agencies sprouted on the margins and competed with the giants. Advertising circulated around the globe and inspired debates about the power of American mega-brands. Many wondered: Did global brands destroy local cultures, turning everyone into homogenized consumers? Or have local cultures made global brands their own?

Dan Wieden and David Kennedy

Dan Wieden and David Kennedy

Dan Wieden and David Kennedy of Wieden+Kennedy licensed popular music and enlisted famous characters like Bugs Bunny to create the first animated Super Bowl commercial for Nike.

Courtesy of Wiedan-Kennedy

“Fail Harder.”

Wieden+Kennedy agency slogan  

Jay Chiat and Lee Clow October 14, 1998, in New York City

Jay Chiat and Lee Clow October 14, 1998, in New York City

Jay Chiat and Lee Clow, of Chiat/Day, created edgy campaigns for clients such as Apple and Nike in the 1980s and 1990s.

Courtesy of Mary Ellen Mark

RGA Adweek

RGA Adweek

Adweek named R/GA, founded by Richard and Robert “Bob” Greenberg, Digital Agency of the Decade in 2009 for innovative platforms like Nike+.

Copyrighted 2014. Prometheus Global Media

Criticism

AdBusters Premiere Issue, 1989

AdBusters Premiere Issue, 1989

AdBusters began publication in 1989. The magazine promoted culture jamming—throwing a satirical wrench into the machinery of advertising—by getting consumers to stop, think, and critique consumer culture and the advertising industry.

Courtesy of AdBusters
 

AdBusters Corporate American Flag Brand

AdBusters Corporate American Flag Brand

The Digital Age

Digital media transformed advertising’s ability to speak directly to consumers and gather information on their behavior. Advertisers developed integrated advertising that distributed campaigns across film, radio, print, television, and retail. Gathering ever-increasing data, marketers tracked and analyzed consumers’ digital footprints. This let them tailor advertising to individuals in ways never before possible.

Maxwell the Pig, 2010s

Maxwell the Pig, 2010s

Courtesy of the Martin Agency on behalf of GEICO

Hispanic Advertising

The Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates advertising firm cast Tejano singer Selena in their advertising for Coca-Cola.

Jacket worn by Selena, about 1990

Gift of Quintanilla Family

View object record
Promotional watch, about 1990

Promotional watch, about 1990

Gift of Lionel Sosa, Ernest W. Bromley, and Adolfo Aguilar

Clio award, 1988

Clio award, 1988

Gift of Lionel Sosa, Ernest W. Bromley, and Adolfo Aguilar

"I love sex" AIDS awareness ad