Good advertising, now and then.

Have you ever stopped to look back before going forward?

We spend so much of our time in advertising looking forward, or at the very least in the immediacy, that we often don’t have the time to look back, taking the present for granted as a result.

If we don't look back, we could take the present for granted.

This is a shame – because, as every hackneyed history graduate knows, not knowing the past will leave us making the same mistakes over and over (like war, economic crises or adverts that feature footballers).

Writing as a hackneyed history graduate who works for a media planning and buying agency, I particularly appreciated coming across the History of Advertising Trust’s website and its brilliant archive of historical (both recent and old) adverts.

If you haven’t seen it, do check it out. Not only is it a great resource and an inspiration, it allows us to take a longer view of our own period.

The first instinct, to laugh at the naïve, pre-Edward Bernays style (that relied largely on quantitative descriptions of USPs), gives way to a humbler notion that good advertising is entirely contextual and that our current fashions will look just as quaint to those looking back at today’s advertising culture.

So the next time you're looking at planning an advertising campaign, take a look at the past and ask yourself if you're taking the present for granted. After all, if we don't look back, how will we know how to move forward?

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