Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Uneasy writer

Here's another example of advertising referencing youth culture with all the awkwardness you'd expect from a bunch of middleaged guys at their wood-veneer desks. Obviously, this isn't the real audience for United Van Line's services -- hence the snarky swipe at those dropouts who don't wash, don't shave, don't dress nicely and don't respect the World War II generation's values. As is probably obvious (at least to those of us over 40), this 1969 ad's imagery draws directly on the movie "Easy Rider," released that same year. To a society whose window to American youth was mainly Frankie & Annette and Gidget movies, it was the having your previously cleancut kid come home from college as a long-haired radical.

The movie's story of two hippies unburdened by American materialism who hit the road "in search of America," was about as far as you could get from United's message of responsibly moving your possessions from one place to another pre-planned destination. Just to cover themselves (maybe they realized that one day those same hippies would become yuppies with big houses in the suburbs), the copy assures us in its second sentence, "Not that we have anything against people traveling light." (Who said the Establishment never tried to close the generation gap?)

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