50 Years Of StagnationNow that I've started getting Mad Men on Netflix, I plan to catch up with every other ad critic in the past year by cleverly inserting a reference to the show into each advertising-related item that I write. In this way we seduce you with a connection to a piece of pop culture detritus you enjoy, then use that as a catapult into our sales pitch, represented in this case by a plea for you to read the rest of this post, with the implied promise that it will be worth your while. So, remember that Mad Men episode where they're all marveling at the Volkswagen "Lemon" ad? That particular ad was a breakthrough just because of its honest, direct style. It was the opposite of Lucky Strikes' "It's Toasted" campaign—an equivalent would have been something like "Lucky Strikes—you'll die but you like them anyways." VW continued on a streak of spot-on advertising that spanned at least the next two decades. Look at this classic VW TV spot and ask yourself, has advertising advanced past this yet, idea-wise? Straight talk, a simple idea, and a dash of humor. It's the same thing good ads are made up of today. They figured this out years ago. But shitty ads still persist. Why? Because ad people are missing the lessons of Mad Men, apparently. Modernity, feh. [ad via Coudal]