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AdLand Through The Decades: Gerry Moira on what inspired him during the class revolution of 70s advertising

The 1970s was a “golden age” in advertising and a “class revolution” paved the way for a wave of creativity, according to Gerry Moira, UK director of creativity and creative chairman at Havas Worldwide.

Speaking at Creative Social’s AdLand Through The Decades event in London, Moira presented a look at the decade and hailed a creative surge, although he warned that the class revolution of the 70s had turned back in the opposite direction and the industry risked “becoming a middle class club all over again”.

“Creatively, the 1970s was a golden age,” he told an audience of creatives. “Advertising and all the commercial arts are integral to and reflective of the culture and economy that produces them.

“Perhaps the greatest revolution of advertising in the 1970s was the class revolution. In the previous decade advertising was a gentleman’s club run almost exclusively by ex-guards officers.“The Beatles and other working class heroes paved the way for scruffy arse corporate urchins to storm the citadels of Mayfair and Knightsbridge,” he went on. “They grounded and reinvigorated the creative work, and it’s a great sadness that the current price of doing placements and internships excludes kids that don’t live with their parents."He warned: “Normal working class kids just can’t afford to join our business and we risk becoming a middle class club all over again.”

Moira added that the growth of the industry had forced it to “grow up” – a change not necessarily healthy for a creative industry.“At the time I was very dismissive of these amateurs but actually I would welcome that kind of diversity now,” he said. “Pressure and profit margins have turned industry into factories. The 1970s saw our business grow up and I’m not sure that’s all together a good thing for advertising. I’m not sure this is a business for grown-ups.”

In a trip down advertising memory lane, Moira discussed the dominance of CDP in the 1970s and noted the influence on creativity from institutions such as the BBC. The Hollywood effect, from a time when Hollywood “had never been more creative before or since” was also notable, he said.

Advertising in the 1970s was a time of British humour, un-politically correct messages and the evolution of the colour TV, Moira added.But one of most notable contributions of the 70s, Moira said, was Britain’s favourite TV commercial of all time – the much-loved Hovis ad.This is the first in an AdLand Through The Decades series running this week.Tomorrow, The Drum will look at the 80s and the "extraordinary changes" Rosie Arnold, BBH's deputy creative director, saw technology bring to the industry.

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