Some of our team attended IAPI’s Restore. Replay. Remember. event on Monday. The event, hosted in the IFI, featured screening and discussion of ads from the dawn of television to the 80s. The event brought together an eclectic mix of those who can be regarded as legends of the industry, some who have been working in the industry for many years, and people who are only at the beginning, or a few years into their careers.
The event featured Pearse McCaughey and John Fanning discussing a selection of ads they had each curated. Raelene Casey, of the Irish Adverts Project explained the process undergone to restore the ads to watchable quality. The event finished with a panel discussion of the ads seen, chaired by Peter Brady with Roisin Keown, Barry Devlin, Carol Lambert and Mat Stevenson as panellists.
While the ads themselves were great to see, some of the most fascinating parts of the evening were the discussion.
Beware of technology
It was pointed out on numerous occasions during the night that the digital culture we now find ourselves in has given life to a whole new range of strictly tactical work. Content is expected to be vast and fast. However, following our own discussion we concluded that this tactical work has become a very necessary part of the advertising landscape as it currently stands. The ads we were looking at were idealising a time when this form of advertising was completely new. The platform of television was exciting and experimental. The current landscape does not reflect this “newness”. But that doesn’t mean digital is suffocating creativity, or that it is only used for tactical work. Digital now is the television of then, it can be exciting and experimental, but at the end of the day it still has to do its job.
Advertising is a mirror
During the panel discussion, the question of whether advertising has an influence on society or whether it is a mere reflection of society was raised. This sparked a few interesting points about how advertising, in its very nature, works to reflect the society in which it finds itself, and reflect how life would be just that little bit better with this one product. This leads to the idea that adverts ought to be respected as artefacts of history, signs of their times. Marshall McLuhan, well cited academic and philosopher, is quoted as saying “Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities”. Advertising gives us a glimpse into life as it was, or, at the very least, life as it was seen by ad-men.
The value of history
This leads to the final point, the value of these ads to us all. Pearse McCaughey quoted “there’s a bright future behind us”. There is always a lot to be learned by looking backwards. We are lucky that in our industry, particularly in relation to television advertising, a number of our legends are still around and can bestow their wisdom upon us all. Events like this draw attention to this amazing potential that should be taken advantage of. Sir John Hegarty was quoted on the night as saying “history is not the past, it’s the future”.