Life, III. A Sundry Assortment of Advertising in Motion

tl;dr? Oh well! Carry on.

This is the third in a series of posts taking a peek into the March 31, 1972 issue of Life magazine. The advertising is a throwback reminder to the technology available and the social norms of the time.

Let’s go!

Parking lot photo booths

In 1972, advertising relied on photography which was analog. A photograph required a camera which required film which required exposure which required a specific shutter speed to capture an image. And while you fiddle with the camera settings, don’t forget to focus.

And then develop the film. A literal dark art, photography required a dark room and tubs of chemicals and time and magic. Instead of an iPhone or Android second, photos on film required a minimum of hours to develop. And I can speak to the disappointment of waiting a whole week for the postal service to deliver packets of blurry overexposed, underexposed, or unfocused photos. It could be a sad end to a long wait.

Analog photography required transportation, dark rooms, chemicals, paper.
Bottom of full-page Fotomat advertisement, Life magazine, March 31, 1971.

Polaroid photo exception

Page 2 of Polaroid Square Shooter 2 advertisement, Life magazine, March 31, 1972.

Polaroid cut the time to see a photo from hours and days to minutes. When photographic paper layered with chemicals was pulled out of the Polaroid camera, the chemicals were activated and film development would start. After a wait of a few minutes, the photo was extracted by peeling off the mini-darkroom chemical layer. And for posterity, another chemical was swiped across the surface — a darkroom feature kept within reach of mere snap-happy mortals.

Polaroid may have cut photo development time to minutes, but that could still be too long to wait. I remember family reunions where between snaps, grandpas or uncles or cousins or siblings wandered off and there was hollering to get everyone back together for the next family portrait. And then we had to smile. The struggle was real.

And Polaroid photographs are like monoprints – singular, unique. There is no negative to make reprints from.

It’s complicated.

Ford Mustang print advertisement, Life magazine, March 31, 1972.

My visceral reaction to the visual mash-up of a surfer and a Ford Mustang is that it is simple and makes no sense. Why is the surfer hunched over the cars in a King Kong menace? Why are those beautiful cars parked on a beach? They will be wrecked or swept out to sea.

Then on further inspection, this advertisement is, actually, a marvel. Created in an age before digital photography and PhotoShop, it was complicated to match the surfboard stripes to the Mustang stripes, to leave the proper amount of space for the advertising copy, to center the surfboarder, match the auto window glass to the dark water of the wave, and evoke a feeling although I’m not sure what I’m supposed to think or feel. The copy states “A panoramic instrument panel and a floor-mounted stick shift sitting between bucket seats. Now this is the real way to control a car.”

Really? Maybe not park on the beach …

Copywriting

Advertising copy used to provide lots of product information. Consumers presumably would compare products and conclude that the advertised product was more desirable than the competition for any number of reasons, but information was key.

And then the wheel turned and advertisers wised up. Who wants or needs or reads, information? Information is boring. Let’s cut to the chase. How does the product make you feel?

The Hiram Walker Ten High bourbon advertisement is an example that is copy heavy with information overload! I have to read to the end to find I’ll make a friend and I’m cheap. Hmmm, I’m wondering just like the fellow in the photo if it’s even worth it.

Copy heavy.

And here’s an example using less copy. Product placement. Smoke in the fresh mountain air on a remote lake or come up where ever you are by lighting up. And note, this Life magazine was published nine years before the Surgeon General’s warning was required on cigarette advertisements.

Levitation with cigarettes — “come all the way up …”

Breakdown of cigarette adverts.

Cigarettes were still advertised in print with relative impunity. Some contained the Surgeon General Warning. Others not. All cigarette advertisements were full page. Men smoking were manly. Women were accompaniments. The exception was Maxine, the masseuse, who rolled-her-own but you’d rather smoke Camel Filters than Maxine’s brand.

  • Camel Filters. They’re not for everybody. They suggest that your only alternative would be Maxine’s brand which is local to Maxine and conveniently not available to you.
  • KOOL. Come all the way up to KOOL. Just a box of cigarettes levitating on a mountain lake (see photo above).
  • Raleigh. Spend a milder moment with Raleigh. Manly man smoking in a meadow with a woman examining a weed? She’s a blond with a headband. The advertisement contained a Surgeon General’s warning.
  • Lucky Ten. The first low ‘tar’ cigarette that delivers full flavor. This was the simplest ad. A simple box — do we even know if there are cigarettes in the box? — in red, white, and black. The phrase “Only 10 mg. ‘Tar'” appeared twice.
  • LARK. Put some more flavor in your life. Man and woman smoking leisurely over a picnic with a red and white LARK hot-air balloon in the background meadow. The picnic blanket is blue and white like Judy Garland’s dress in The Wizard of Oz and you know it is intentional. Leave Kansas. Visit Oz. Smoke. Smoke LARK.
  • Marlboro. No tagline. All feel. Cowboy riding a horse chasing a steer. You are on the move and we know because the background is blurry. Presumably, enjoy a smoke after chasing steers.
  • Pall Mall Gold 100’s. Yes, longer yet milder. Close up of a man’s hand with a lit cigarette and gold signet ring … embossed with … the same emblem on the Pall Mall Gold 100’s box also featured in close-up. If you smoke PMGold 100’s, you.are.successfull. And manly.
Marlboro cigarette advertisement, Life magazine, March 31, 1972.

The number of cigarette ads in the magazine was a reminder that social norms change. I can’t remember the last restaurant I was in that had a dedicated smoking section. If you smoke, we want you to know you shouldn’t, and you can go smoke in isolation. This wasn’t always true.

1972 Pantone Greenery Dodge Dart

My first car ever was a 1973 2-door Dodge Dart, so this image struck near and dear to my heart. My used Dart was $300 with about 50,000 miles. I proceeded to drive it for another 50,000 miles. Mine was not painted 2017 Pantone ‘Greenery’ but it was by far the most economical ride I ever owned.

Automatic transmission was an option! and that color is so forward-looking 2017 Pantone Greenery.

This has been a moment blog post to consider Life, the magazine. Issue dated March 31, 1972.

Carry on.

Life, II. Twin Towers in my lifetime: before & after.

In a lifetime. Rise, fall, rise again.

Before.

The Twin Towers rose in my youth. Sometime during 5th or 6th grade, they were completed, dedicated, populated. They took up residence at that spot in my heart previously occupied by the Empire State Building where I childishly believed that America dreams big, plans big, and builds big. 

Life magazine, issue dated March 31, 1972, took me back to that space in my youth when the World Trade Center (WTC) was still incomplete, still someone’s dream, still a plan in motion.

Life magazine, Two tall towers for world trade, March 31, 1972.

Remembering is too interesting. Here is the text in full:

New York City’s World Trade Center is another year or more from completion, and the grounds around it are now still ugly with the paraphernalia of construction. But these photographs, made using the architect’s scale models, show what the massive center will look like in time and suggest some of its superlatives: it is the tallest (110 stories), costliest ($700 million) and most spacious (nine million square feet for rent) office complex on earth. It is also a fright to many critics who worry about straining the Wall Street area’s already overloaded electrical, communication, and transportation facilities with another 50,000 employees and 80,000 visitors daily. In his handling of the project’s sheer mass, however, architect Minoru Yamasaki conceived some notably graceful solutions — particularly at ground level. The complex will emphasize open spaces and maximum exposure to sunlight. At its center is a huge plaza (seen at center above and as the background photograph on these pages) that is bigger than St. Mark’s Square in Venice. It will include five acres of flowers, fountains, sculptures and trees. To see what the Trade Center has done to the New York skyline, turn the page.

Two tall towers for world trade. (1972, March 31). Life. 
New York skyline as Twin Towers are built.

Large buildings are inorganic structures that require infrastructure and complicated systems to support a populace not distributed across a land mass but concentrated vertically. Skyscrapers are efficient. Essentially, the infrastructure — heating and cooling, water supply, electricity, communications, waste management — needs to support the population of a mid-size city. 

And for 28 years, the Twin Towers came alive and lived and breathed and supported. And they were infused into my understanding of America. Big plans, big buildings, we get ‘er done.

After 

I recently made my first trip to New York City with Mr. Viva and in our itinerary was the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the Twin Towers.

WTC Memorial, November 2018

I did not make it to New York when the towers were there. Those two cities reaching to the sky were demolished by terrorists. The towers fell. People died. The memorials are appropriately two big holes left by the towers’ footprints. 

And there is a hole left at that spot in my heart, too. We are not unique because we build big dreams from big plans. Someone else’s big dreams and big plans killed ours.

The winged structure in the background looks like the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Just sayin’.

Rise again.

I can’t leave on a low note. 

As part of the rebuild of the World Trade Center complex, the One World Trade Center building surpassed the height of the Empire State Building on April 20, 2012

Picture of the sky over New York in November 2018. That may or may not be One World Trade Center. Photo taken using selfie-setting on phone.

On a windy day, tall buildings sway. Or they sway more. We passed on taking a trip up to the observation deck. 

This time. 

But we’ll be back, too.