AdLand Through The Decades: BBH's Rosie Arnold on the 1980s and the 'extraordinary' changes in advertising since

In the second instalment of The Drum’s series looking at AdLand Through The Decades, Rosie Arnold discusses advertising in the 1980s and the changes in industry brought about by technology.

Despite the “extraordinary” changes in the advertising world brought about by technology, the craft still requires the single creative voice with real vision to produce truly great work, according to BBH deputy creative director and former D&AD president Rosie Arnold.

Speaking at Creative Social’s AdLand Through The Decades event in London, Arnold took an audience of creatives through the advertising journey of the 1980s and said the changes in technology had both good and bad sides for the creative industry.

“I find the technological changes quite astounding,” she said. “There was no Apple Mac, there was no way of scamping your layout. You actually hand drew your ideas and hand rendered the type on ideas before taking them to your client.“It was very rough and I actually loved that. Nowadays it seems I’m constantly trying to recreate the scamp I’ve shown the client rather than create something totally original. That’s a downside.“Having time to think was an advantage,” she went on. “You instantly Google ideas now. Then, you had no way of knowing if people had done your ideas before. You had to go out and source things, which could be very exciting.”However, Arnold added that other changes in industry had been a breath of fresh air. In her presentation, she showed a 1980s BBH ad for Pretty Polly tights in which the creative team managed to cover an editing hiccup, and she recalled the days when pre-print layouts required literally sticking type onto pages.

“That was a really horrible bit about the business,” she said. “Nowadays, the wizardry of being able to see your layout with different type and change the typeface where it sits is wonderful.”The ability to instantly track the success of ads has been a “fascinating” change, Arnold said, whereas in decades past the success and reach of an ad was often measured by conversation in newspapers pages or, in the case of one Levi’s ad, flattery by spoof and imitation.

However, throughout the decades, Arnold said, the need for a strong creative vision remained unchanged.“My lesson from the 80s is that you still need creative with vision,” she concluded. “There are so many voices coming at you from so many different places. It’s very hard for one person to hang on to their idea and their creative vision.“You’ve got a million emails asking you to do different things, and you’ve got a million opportunities to change, but actually the really truly inspired, great creative work has one creative leader who navigates through all those voices and ends up with something that has got real stature and real vision.”Before Arnold's walk through the 1970s, UK director of creativity and creative chairman at Havas Worldwide Gerry Moira took a look at the 1960s.

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