Seven Ways Our Advertisements Will Appear Quaint In The Future

One of the things I love about the past is old advertisements.  You know, the ones with men with bushily intense mustaches, proclaiming the VIM! and VIGOR! of this AMAZING NEW ELIXIR! where the ads are crammed with tiny text because shit, what else did people have to do back in 1905 aside from read a magazine?  They had no television, no MP3 player, no radio, so hell, throwing walls of text at them probably helped them stave off the inevitable boredom that consumed them just before the cholera did.

And there’s something really charming about the sway doctors held over the population then.  Those ads were packed with paintings and line drawings of physicians touting the veracity and astonishment of this new ELECTRO-STIMULATOR KERDAZZLE! and the ads touted the “plain facts” of things, summing up all the “prodigious advantages” one could get from purchasing these new and very manly object.

Then one day, all of those techniques stopped working.

All those words that once held such potency – such as, in fact, potency! – sounded antiqued, a little embarrassing, not anything you’d really want to use in an ad.  The words themselves had become associated with advertisements and hucksters, where if you heard the word “nostrum” you knew you were gonna have some schmuck in a pharmacist’s coat shelling you a tube of ointment.  And when something becomes associated primarily with advertisements, buddy, it’s pretty much over.

So there’s this dust-heap of words and illustration styles that are just not used.  They’re funny, now.  People like James Lileks make a living off of mocking old ads.  It’s something no one does these days unless you’re trying to be ironic.

The weird thing is that all of this link-bait will one day be quaint.

Oh, XKCD’s already nailed it, but that’s just the edge of froth on an incoming wave.  Kids who grow up learning that most of the Upworthy and Buzzfeed links they see turn out to be kinda disappointing will eventually start rolling their eyes when they see another “You Won’t Believe What This Single Parent Has To Say!” link.  They’ll realize at least 5 of the “8 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars” are things they in fact did know, or aren’t actually that interesting.  And worse, in time it’ll become corny, like the word corny has become corny, and then someone will develop a new technique to sucker people in and these linkbait techniques of the 2010s will become as antiqued as stacks of AOL discs.

In time, people will only use these techniques ironically, as a fictional technique to indicate that hey, we’re in the silly 2010s when people actually bought this hokum, and maybe it was kinda-charming back in the day but wow, who the hell would think that “You won’t believe this thing!” would actually get a sane person to click through?

We’re charging forward, into the past.  We always are.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *