Why do we keep falling for it? I’ve been wearing Calvin Klein underwear for 30 years and I have never managed to get a six-pack. It doesn’t work.
In my opinion, we will begin to look back at this era of advertising in the same way we now look at 1950s cigarette advertising and wonder why did people fall for it? Why did people think that when they smoked a cigarette that they looked like Cary Grant? They didn’t.
If you look at all fashion magazines it is all lifestyle driven, all lifestyle magazines are lifestyle driven, all style magazines are lifestyle driven – why do we keep falling for it? Why do we keep looking at a magazine, seeing an image that has been constructed with the best photographer that the brand can afford, the best stylist that the brand can afford, the best location that the brand can afford, with the brand’s name on it, the brand’s product on it – and then present that as a lifestyle that we think we want to buy into? I think we are on the verge of a massive change and I think it will be the equivalent of the change that occurred in US car advertising in the 1950s.
In the 50s, American car advertising was all lifestyle driven – you had Chevy, Buick, Dodge and Ford all presenting ‘Big America’ and ‘Big Cars’. It was about happily consuming ‘Big’ outdoor locations with these big cars.
It was a sea of lifestyle.
If you look at advertising back then and contrast it with now, from Ralph Lauren to Abercrombie & Fitch, everybody is lifestyle driven and if you go back to the 1950s it was the same.
Then one brand came along and changed the status quo. That brand was VW, who less than ten years after the Second World War, took a German car into the American market and using a simple product shot of a VW Beetle called it a ‘lemon’. It was provocative, anti-lifestyle and it really worked.
And today, all the brands we work with are gradually shifting away from lifestyle. You have to be at the vanguard of telling the truth, being honest in your advertising and finding that the magic should be in the product, not in the vague lifestyle that doesn’t exist anywhere.