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All-American Ads of the 70s
Flexi-cover, 196 x 255 mm
Both eclipsed and influenced by television, American print ads of the 1970s departed from the bold, graphic forms and subtle messages that were typical of their sixties counterparts. More literal, more in-your-face, 70s ads sought to capture the attention of a public accustomed to blaring, to-the-point TV commercials (even VW ads, known for their witty, ironic statements and minimalist designs, lost some of their punch in the 1970s). All was not lost, though; as ads are a sign of the times, racial and ecological awareness crept into everything from cigarette to car advertisements, reminding Americans that everyday products were hip to the modern age. In an attempt to discover how best to communicate with a mass audience, marketing specialists studied focus groups with furious determination, thus producing such dumbed-down gems as “sisters are different from brothers,” the slogan used for an African-American hair product. By the end of the decade, however, print ads had begun to recoup, gaining in originality and creativity as they focused on target audiences through carefully chosen placement in smaller publications. A fascinating study of mass culture dissemination in a post-hippie, television-obsessed nation, this weighty volume delivers an exhaustive and nostalgic overview of 70s advertising.
Jim Heimann is a resident of Los Angeles, a graphic designer, writer, historian, and instructor at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He is the author of numerous books on architecture, popular culture, and Hollywood history.
Steven Heller is art director of the New York Times Book Review and co-chair of the MFA/Design program at the School of Visual Arts. He is the author and editor of over 80 books on graphic design and popular culture, including The Graphic Design Reader, Paul Rand, From Merz to Emigre and Beyond: Avant Garde Magazine Design of the 20th Century, and Citizen Design: Perspectives on Design Responsibility.
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