MAA blast from the past: back to the 1970s with Harp

They say that Britain is returning to the 1970s as another winter of discontent looms with shortages of just about everything, soaring gas prices and inflation revving up.

The 1970s were a very profitable decade for ad agencies though, with 15% media commission for full-service (creative and media) shops and just the one commercial TV channel, ITV. There were also some great ads – but lots of others too.

Harp dominated the lager market, in part because owner Guinness spent buckets of money on it – £6m a year at the time. Through Allen Brady & Marsh, home of the jingle. Creative director Rod Marsh had a white grand piano in his office it seems.

Here’s some classic ABM assault and battery.

And, a bit later from the early 1980s (four minutes in all, defy you to get through them all.)

Are such ads on the way back as we replicate the 1970s? To an extent they might be as ITV airtime (still the main ad-funded medium) is in short supply as prices rise post-pandemic and advertisers chase “activation.”

Maybe we’ll have some better news tomorrow…

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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