Earlier this year, an antique shop owner in town was retiring and winding down her store. I picked up a pretty good batch of vintage magazines at a nice price on the last weekend, and went back after work on Monday, the final day, just to see if I had missed anything.
Well, turns out I was recognized and she had an impressive stock of vintage magazines in back that never made it out on the floor. She made me a great offer and I took it. And on top of that, she had a collection of various things she had cut out of other old magazines — random photos and illustrations from ads, stories and features — that she had started on for an unspecified “girly project” but decided after a while that it was too much work. She had this particular collection stored in the cover/lid from a case of office copier paper and it was filled to overflowing. She offered it to me for five more bucks and I said yep.
I still haven’t made it to the bottom of her cutouts, but so far have found a plethora of full, intact vintage ads, and also many partial ads where she was only interested in the primary photo or illustration and saw no need to cut out or keep the rest (headline, body copy, logo, etc.). The image below is one such example.
The origin of 3M’s Post-it Notes is the stuff of legend, and if you went to business school, you probably had to read the case study even though anything like it probably won’t ever happen again.
Now imagine being the ad agency creative team tasked with not only getting the public wanting the product, but also having to explain what it was and how it worked because nothing quite like it had ever existed before. Or don’t imagine it, because here’s one of the early ads.
1981 magazine ad for 3M’s Post-it Notes (Post-Its) with an excellent example of strategic and select use of color.
From an ad in a 1959 Cosmopolitan magazine. Horseback riding has many benefits.
♬ Standin’ on your mama’s porch,
You told me that you’d wait forever.
Oh, and when you held my hand,
My constipation worries are over!
Those were the best days of my life.
Back in the summer of ’59, oh.
— If Bryan Adams has written about a decade earlier
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