Inspiration from yesteryear: old Oxfam ads

Posted by Amy Willmer

18th Jan 2013

Regular blogger Al sent round a link this week to an interesting Pinterest board set up by Mark Phillips. Mark's compiled a collection of old charity ads.

It's well worth a look - not least because the collection charts the shift in charity creative from the 1960s onwards. When the industry first started out, a large helping of guilt was the order of the day. You have:

It's easy to understand how, while charity advertising was in its infancy, undisguised guilt was a sure-fire way to achieve cut through.

Looking at the Oxfam ads featured too, it's clear to see that we've come a long way from the desperate images of starving people we started out with. The public perception of charity has become more sophisticated, and charity advertising has necessarily - and sometimes controversially - followed suit (see the recent Food for All debate).

That said, as much as this collection highlights change, it's also a useful source of inspiration. It's valuable to see what's led us to this point. And it's worth noting the continuity too - The Salvation Army's "Without you, Christmas day would be just another Friday" from 1970 is not a world away from the (albeit updated) "Christmas doesn't always happen where you expect it" message behind Shelter's 2012 'desperate santa' video.

We've included a few of the old Oxfam ads here, but take a look at Mark's Pinterest board for lots more archive examples.

Blog post written by Amy Willmer

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