Advertise Like It’s 1989

marketing lessons from taylor swift

1989 was a great year. It was when the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall came down, it saw the debut of Nintendo Game Boy devices and Bette Midler’s hit “The Wind Beneath My Wings” dominated the music charts. It’s also the year I was born. Gasp! Now you know how old I am.

A lot of things have changed since then, but there are still some worthy things we can learn from that year, particularly by examining some notable advertisements. It seems timely to look back to 1989 thanks to the lyrical insight of Taylor Swift (which I can’t seem to shake off), who currently has an album out named after the year. See if you remember these effective ads from back in the day.

The Rise of the Energizer Bunny

Before the pink, drum-playing Energizer bunny, there was a similar mascot for the Duracell brand of batteries, and it was very popular. In 1989, however, the Energizer bunny came bounding onto the scene, wearing his cool sunglasses.

Originally, Energizer’s bunny was meant to be a parody of the one created by Duracell, but consumers quickly embraced the character even more than his predecessor. To put things in perspective, more than 100 ads featuring the Energizer bunny were made over the next two decades, but Duracell’s rabbit fell into the background and was nearly forgotten.

The lyrics of Taylor Swift’s song “Style” say “Cause we never go out of style, we never go out of style” – and the same could be said for the Energizer bunny. Although he’s not used so much in ads today, people who were alive when those marketing campaigns were running still remember him fondly.

Creating Connections Between People

British Airways got attention by producing an inventive advertisement where people are clustered in groups that look like parts of a face, such as lips and an eye. At the end of the commercial, all those parts come together as one mishmash of people who are hugging each other with excitement and love. The idea was that the airline was an instrumental part of bringing loved ones together despite geographic distance.

The commercial does a great job pulling the emotional ties of consumers who have a love that left a permanent mark on their heart.

A Soft Drink Brings Happiness

Coca-Cola’s 1989 “You Can’t Beat the Feeling” campaign centered on how a beverage can be the thing that makes people laugh, smile and just get more fulfillment out of life, which is still the theme of their drink today. The incredibly upbeat commercial, complete with a cheery soundtrack, shows people from all ages and walks of life. They grin as they slurp the soda from old-fashioned glass bottles, enjoying the drink with friends. Back then, the rest of the world might have been in black and white but this Coca-Cola ad was in screaming colors.

Segue: the recent Coca-Cola campaign “Share a Coke” is another that I’m sure will go down into history as one of their best campaigns ever!

Although these advertisements explore different subject matters, they prove some things stay constant across generations. It’s hard to beat the crowd appeal of a memorable animal spokesperson; it’s always important to draw on people’s emotional connections; and sometimes seemingly small things like sharing a coke with a friend make life a lot more enjoyable.

So when you’re tossing, turning, struggling through the night for some inspiration maybe revisit these old campaigns and get similarly stellar results.

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