70's media was an innovation
It was a wild and brave step forward into a new awareness and cultural tolerance. The 70's house was the place to be in; explosive, vibrant and very much alive. 70's advertising projected happiness and positive vibes firmly backed by the ideal that the world was improving and it more or less belonged to the young.. Daisies were everywhere as were loud flower prints. Many of the ads looked like carry-overs from the 60's, but with a newer 70's wilding and bold appeal.
Smoke 'em if You Got 'em
It's very interesting to look back on cigarette ads and how strategic they were commercially. Outdoor settings were used often probably to acquaint the idea of smoking with calming locations. More interesting was that many of the ads depicted couples walking along a beach, or sitting near a tent and campfire in the mountains. A very unhealthy habit was embellished by very healthy environs. Such was the case of the 70's package design for L & M Cigarettes.
Salem, Bel Air, and Old Goldstook full advantage of the outdoor settings. Old Gold usually depicted ruggedness, and Salems were presented in a romantic setting with young lovers holding hands, or a guy pushing the gal in a tree swing out in the middle of a manicured park. Essentially, the ads were coffee table gorgeous.
Soon came cigarettes marketed directly for women only. Eve and Virginia Slims brought cigarette smoking to a higher, yet more equitable level by offering brands that catered to the ladies. Women not only had a voice in the 70's, they had a cigarette too.
The treatment of alcoholic beverages never seemed to decline over the decades. The promotion of alcohol was typically cast as social-friendly, or male-oriented. Advertisements for Scotch, Vodka, and other liquor store delights were often portrayed as the swinging bachelor's preferred sip of choice. Alcohol in advertising was presented as a lifestyle rather than a mere product. After-hours partying, the cocktail hour, or living the smooth bachelor playboy lifestyle all encompassed the promotion of alcohol. The approach was very refined and subtly represented with taste, albeit potentially hazardous to one's health.
The hottest commodity
in advertising always was, and always will be sex. Sexual freedom was just one of the many cornerstones of the 70's foundation. Freedom to live, love, and party peacefully and without limits was an underlying theme of the decade. Sexually oriented advertising was blatant to a point of being misleading. The point was to get a person to read the ad. One classic example is of the ad below. It's text at the bottom reads: "The one thing a man never turns down is a second helping of rice." So, what does the blonde-who occupies 75% of the ad-have to with rice? Sex, in the form of leggy models with, or without much clothing, was a common catalyst in 70's marketing and advertising. Cars, stereos, liquor, cigarettes, and many other things that men focused on were often accompanied by desirable women somewhere in the photo.
Why men were the targets of this era of advertising I can only speculate; perhaps the majority of American household dollars were spent by men who earned more than women. In any event, sex was a driving force behind advertising, and many other ludicrous promos such as the "rice" ad were found gracing many a magazine page in the 70's.
One of the most controversial forms of media
was the talk show, or "report TV". The biggest, and most powerful weapon in 70's media had to be the talk show. There was little territory that was safe, and the new talk show hosts were ruthless with their interviews. David Frost's lengthy interview with former president Richard M. Nixon was a ground-breaking interview.
Pure bravado and classic comic skills were what made Johnny Carson such a number one late-night favorite. His iconic "Tonight Show" was, and still is quite legendary. Johnny was an easy-going, laughing guy whom audiences loved. Yet he did things above and beyond the call of talk show hosts line of duty. His petting a crocodile and permitting a large tarantula to crawl up his arm were just a few highlights that I remember. Never before had I seen talk show hosts go the distance that Johnny would. He was scared too, which only added to the fun.
Along with the interviews, Johnny offered up wonderfully comedic skits and monologues. My favorite was "The Great Carnac". Carnac was an hilarious comic mystic who "divined" his answers before the question was asked. As an example, in his usual routine with Ed McMahon, Carnac states the answer first "Dippity-Do" to the question of: "What is the moisture that forms on the end of your dippity?"
Dick Cavett was another who's show I rarely missed. He had a comic, edgy style of not
taking any crap from anyone, asking questions many others didn't dare ask, and did it all with a constant smile on
Cavett also had amazing recovery skills; if the guest turned on him, he could bounce back with humor and not miss a beat. Dick
Cavett was one of the most successful talk show hosts ever in my opinion simply because it was open season-in a
friendly way- on anyone that appeared on his show. He never attacked his guests. Instead, he gleaned important
information from them in the style of an inquisitive reporter, yet friendly and amicable. Out of the multitude of guests on his show, my favorite Cavett interviews would have to be with Janis Joplin for whom he seemed to have a sincere affection for. Janis was a lightning bolt, and anwered any question in her own way, without hesitation or concern. One of my favorite questions:
CAVETT: Are there male groupies that follow the female rock stars around?
JOPLIN: Not nearly enough.