Showcasing advertising history: who will bell the cat?

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Talk to a newbie in advertising today and chances are that he or she will not know anything about famous advertising campaigns & personalities of the past. When I say past, I am not referring to campaigns of the 1940s but about campaigns that created history and successful brands over the last 2 decades. It’s a pity, really. It really is not the fault of ad agency folks today but all that they know about classic campaigns is perhaps learnt by chance or of their own volition.

Isn’t it important that practitioners of a profession know of the origins, landmark studies or events, past case histories and so on pertaining to the profession? Law students, I presume would study landmark cases as part of their curriculum. Architects would study creations and principles of genius architects from the past. It pains me know that todays entry level professionals in the ad business are not even aware of the names of ad legends from the early 1990s forget the 1900s. And we are talking of ad legends who made a big difference to the business and shaped the craft.

Maybe premier ad agency associations of each country should set up a website where past work (especially landmark campaigns), bios of leading local ad legends and case studies on successful ad campaigns are shared. Since the digital age is recently upon us its a pity that archives of great print ads and TV commercials are left to individuals & agonies to put them up on the web – be it through Flickr or YouTube. Time for a global advertising history museum? Or is there one already?


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