Before coming up with the slogan “Utz Are Better Than Nuts!” for the real-world Utz potato chip company on Mad Men, Don Draper and his crew had to study the competition, like this ad for Beech Nut or this one with Andy Griffith for General Foods.
Today we’re saturated with ads, more than the ad men that inspired Draper’s character could have ever imagined. They’re everywhere—on the dark interiors of tunnels as we speed along in light rail trains, in the games we let our kids play on smart phones—and they reveal a lot to us about ourselves.
Duke University’s John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History put together Adviews, a collection that brings together thousands of historic commercials from the 1950s to 1980s. Collected or created by the D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles advertising agency, the digital collection is available online and on iTunesU as a free archive. It’s also found at the Internet Archive, where ads can be downloaded as MP4 videos.
We may have grown more savvy and suspicious of products that promise better health and efficiency, but if anything we’re more fascinated by advertising than ever. Since launching the archive in 2009, the commercials have logged 2.5 million downloads.
And for y’all who miss Andy Griffith, there’s a wealth of great stuff.