Dying of old age

I’ve been chucking out a few 1990s gems on LinkedIn recently.

People seem to like them, but it got me thinking: Parklife is from 1997, which for the non-mathletes among you is 23 years ago.

In my advertising youth, no one was watching or applauding the ads from 23 years earlier (1973). To be honest, fifteen years earlier (1981) would have been a bit of a stretch.

Sure, we could just about recall the Pencil-winning Smash Martians, Honey Monster and Kia Ora (thanks, Mr. Webster), but no one seemed particularly interested in watching them again. And I can’t recall many discussions of Fiat Handbuilt by Robots, Lego Kipper or Benson and Hedges Iguana.

Maybe it was because they were hard to track down and inconvenient to watch, but even when they could be found more easily and viewed at the click of a mouse, they hadn’t remained a big a deal to most people in the industry.

But these are the industry equivalents of The Godfather, Barry Lyndon and The Apartment. Have they really been consigned to the mists of time?

Do people not know about them, or are they just too dated to appreciate? Do we need the context of the era and the surrounding dross to fully understand how great they were?

My take on it is that they are like 2001 or Lawrence of Arabia and Annie Hall: sought out and appreciated more by the real aficionados who appreciate the momentous steps forward that the great works gave us, but not exactly wowing the mainstream. Sure, people still seek out those movies, but 2001 can’t be as mindblowing as it was in 1968, Lawrence of Arabia existed in a time of epics where people were much more inclined to sacrifice four hours to watch a movie, and I loved Annie Hall when I first saw it, but last month I switched it off after half an hour because it seemed woefully unfunny.

I suppose it’s just a cultural case of survival of the fittest. If no one wants to seek out the D&AD winners of 1977, that’s their fault. People still want to look at a Matisse or listen to Mozart.

I’ll do what I can to keep the 1990s fire burning, but I accept that there’ll come a time when Levi’s Drugstore, Guinness Swimblack and BBC Perfect Day will be as obscure as Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (and there’s no shame in that).