There are those who think when the government regulates business, it stifles productivity. Others think regulations protect us all from unscrupulous companies that would sell horse meat labeled as prime rib. The internet—home to Lonelygirl15, Craigslist, internet dating, and fake news—has never lent itself to regulation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), however, has recently taken notice of this lawless landscape and is trying to bring at least a semblance of accountability to one area of the internet.
No matter what business you’re in, to be successful, you need to advertise. As much as 90% of what one owns—or has ever owned—was purchased because of advertising’s subconscious effects.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The TV show Mad Men presented a world from 60 years ago that was unrecognizable in its styles, technology, and social mores. Yet, the advertising principals employed by Sterling Cooper’s marketing team are very familiar. While life changes quickly, the parts of our brain that control emotional responses are slow to evolve. The elements of a winning ad in 1960 are not that different than they are today.
Fifty years ago, consumers were fiercely loyal to products ranging from cars to colas. That loyalty was frequently baseless and often passed from one generation to the next. If I drove a Chevy, so would my offspring, and for years, the three U.S. automakers counted on it. When a variety of better-made, inexpensive imports arrived in the 1980s, GM, Ford, and Chrysler never saw them coming, because they never thought their customers would go elsewhere.