Hyperbubble and The Nature of Cool

Hello Boys


My brother got me this book about 60's American advertising for Christmas [thanks dude!].

There's a lot of interesting stuff in there but the one that jumped out at me, so to speak, was the Maidenform ad.

The Maidenform "I dreamed" campaign ran for 20 years, ending only as the 60s did, featured proud young women dreaming of fantastical situations enabled in some unspecified way by their bras.

It sparked controversy and conversation at the time, just as Wonderbra did with their simplified poster version of the same endlessly fascinating image.

A feminist reading would see it as oppressive and exploitative - women dream of adventures, usually in roles associated with men [cowboy, fireman, toreador]  - whilst a fashion analyst would be more interested in the bullet shaped cones that vanished for decades, only to be re-introduced by Madonna / Gaultier in the 80s.

The whole book reflects the values and aspirations of their times.

And whilst treating the body of advertising of an age as purely reflective is misleading [the civil upheaval of the 60s is rarely evident - 60s advertising feels more like a weird nostalgia for the already idealised 50s] it certainly provides a window into what concerned the dominant discourse of the day.

Advertising operates in the realm of hopes and dreams and myths - these are the levers used to motivate purchase decisions.

The ads of the 60s seem obsessed with space, with women, with sophistication, with domesticity, with really big cars.

I wonder what our ads say about us.