60 years on… TV adverts then and now

September 22nd 2015

60 years ago today, Unilever (a Wooshii client) released the first ever video advertisement played on commercial TV in Britain. Unsurprisingly adverts are now very different, but how exactly have things changed?

Viewed from a modern perspective, the 1955 Gibbs SR toothpaste advert looks somewhat dated, but at its release it was revolutionary. The minute-long advert aired on ITV’s opening day and showed the toothpaste in a block of ice being described as ‘tingling fresh’.

Adverts have come a long way since. There have been a huge range shown on British commercial television since Unilever’s toothpaste. Some have been great advertising campaigns, others have paled into insignificance and more than we would like to accept fall into the category of adverts that we just love to hate (think ‘just one Cornetto’ or Barry Scott of Cillit Bang).

Musically, jingles play an important role in the memorability of a brand. Studies have shown that the average Brit spends around 58 minutes per week mentally repeating these catchy tunes. This is not exactly enjoyable, however, and has landed jingles such as *those* Go Compare adverts or ‘we buy any car dot com’ with the rather more fitting term ‘earworms’.

The cost of adverts has also dramatically risen: John Lewis’ 2014 Christmas advert campaign (the one with Monty the Penguin) reportedly cost £1 million to shoot and a total of £7 million including TV spots, newspaper adverts and in-store advertising.
Looking back at Unilever, their most recent advert, ‘Farewell to the Forest’, promotes their commitment to making products sustainably. Even 60 years on, Unilever remains a forerunner in video advertising. In under a month this campaign has received a staggering 16 million views on YouTube (let alone those from television and other mediums).

Video advertising in general is also fast becoming preferable to other means. Businesses have realised video’s potential and now produce visual content advertising their services. The results are clear, with multiple successes for those who implement video across all platforms of their business.

We have come a long way from the days of Gibbs SR toothpaste in 1955. Video is part of one of the fastest changing platforms in today’s culture, so only time will tell how it changes. The question has to be asked though: over the next 60 years, how many more Barry Scotts and Gio Comparios can the public tolerate? Here’s hoping it’s not many.

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Adverts referenced:

Gibbs SR Toothpaste (Unilever, 1955): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKuEwsEiSp8
Walls Cornetto (80s/90s): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biL6zAMkOQs
Cillit Bang (Barry Scott): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrMD_z_FnNk
Go Compaaaaaare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_-9QFvhQWo
We Buy Any Car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXiJBp7HK5o
John Lewis Christmas Advert (2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860
Farewell to the Forest (Unilever, 2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q6SLgcSOlc

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