David Lynch vs litter

Posted by Reuben Turner | 27-01-2014 12:14 | Category: Environment, Vintage


Why don’t more amazing film-makers get to make ads about social causes (or just things that bother them)? This, from 1991, is David Lynch’s supremely disturbing TV ad about littering. I would love to have been at that meeting.



New York
Not known
Boing Boing

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80’s Muppetesque anti-drug ad: “We’re not candy”  #vintagePSA

Posted by Tom Megginson | 8-03-2013 04:32 | Category: Vintage

80's Muppetesque anti-drug ad: We're not candy

It’s like Jim Henson’s Muppets and The Hamburger Patch from McDonaldland had babies, and those babies were some parent’s prescription meds:

What the hell? From Laughing Squid:

This 1983 public service announcement from the Long Island Regional Poison Control Center stars high-pitched talking and singing blue puppet pills who warn of the serious effects of unbottled prescription drugs that look like candy. Incidentally, rapper Busta Rhymes uses lyrics from this PSA in his 1997 song, Dangerous.

Sometimes I really wish I was 30 years older, and could have made PSAs in that era.



Long Island Regional Poison Control Center
Laughing Squid

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A look back at some classic AIDS prevention campaigns #worldaidsday

Posted by Tom Megginson | 1-12-2012 17:23 | Category: Vintage


It’s World AIDS Day today, December 1. To mark the occasion, Buzzfeed’s Stacy Lambe has shared a collection of creative AIDS prevention ads from past years, taken from the AIDS Education Posters Collection curated by the University of Rochester. I’ve shared a few of my favourites here, but it’s worth visiting the original post for the full collection with sources. Unfortunately, there are no credits. Feel free to add them in the comments. (PS: I am aware of the works of Keith Haring.)


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Madonna rocks the vote, 1990-1992

Posted by Tom Megginson | 6-11-2012 21:38 | Category: Vintage

Madonna rocks the vote

Rock The Vote is an American not-for-profit that urges youth to register and vote in elections. Founded in 1990, the organization got its original push from PSAs starring Madonna that were played heavily on MTV.

It appeared the same year as Madonna’s video for the song “Justify My Love” was banned for its sexual content, and two years before her explicit coffee table book, Sex, was published. The young, saucy and silly Madonna of 22 years ago seems ages away from the mature songstress today. (Who was recently booed in New Orleans for endorsing President Obama during a concert.) But the campaign was successful — by 1992, election polls that year showed a 20% increase in youth turnout over the 1988 election, ending a declining trend in young Americans’ democratic participation.

Rock The Vote

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Postcards from another time when powerful men feared women voters

Posted by Tom Megginson | 5-11-2012 16:15 | Category: Vintage


Tomorrow, American voters will decide the direction their country will take for the next four years. One of the major themes of the election has been women’s rights. In the “swing states” that likely will decide which party wins, a Gallup poll demonstrated that male and female voters have very different political priorities. Women’s top concerns included “abortion,” “equal rights/pay/opportunity” and social services, issues that didn’t even show up on the men’s list. Both genders are — obviously — especially concerned with the economy, but “abortion” beat out “jobs” on the women’s list. The mobilization of women voters tomorrow could have a lasting effect on the world.

But 100 years ago, most western democracies did not allow women to vote at all. This collection of early 20th century postcards, curated by Retronaut, illustrates the intense anxiety felt by the male-dominated society about the Suffragette movement that was gaining momentum in Great Britain, the United States, and around the world.


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‘80s cartoon characters talk about “bad touching”

Posted by Tom Megginson | 3-10-2012 21:34 | Category: Vintage


Every once in a while, we look back in time to feature vintage PSAs that remind us how much more sophisticated (or not) social marketing has become over the years.

Today’s flashback is a PSA created as a supplement to the 1980s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It features the eponymous hero, his twin sister She-Ra, and the inevitable comic relief mascot. The siblings deliver a message about inappropriate touching (child sexual abuse) and encourage victims to report it

(See the PSA after the break.)

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“Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No” - Joan Baez, 1968

Posted by Tom Megginson | 25-09-2012 18:27 | Category: Vintage


This 1968 American anti-conscription poster sums up much of what’s interesting about the 1960s — the innocence (including the pre-liberated, Lysistrata-style sexual dynamic), the earnestness, and the simplicity.

According to Wikicollecting:

Joan Baez was highly active as a political activist during the 1960s, and established the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence in 1964. She encouraged draft resistance during her live concerts, and is believed to have suggested that women opposed to violence should go for men who were resisting the military draft. This suggestion soon turned into the poster featuring Baez, which was created by Larry Gates and sold to raise funds for the Draft Resistance movement.

The poster features the celebrated U.S folk singer and political activist Joan Baez, along with her sisters Pauline and Mimi. They sit together on a couch, above which a slogan reads “Girls Say Yes To Boys Who Say No”.

The poster was created to combat the idea that draft resistance was unmanly, and openly suggested that woman who opposed the military draft should become involved with men who resisted it.

Ms. Baez deserves some sort of lifetime achievement award for artistic activism. In addition to her considerable musical accomplishments, went on to help found the American chapter of Amnesty International. More recently, she remains a prominent social influencer in causes such as opposing the death penalty, GLBT rights, environmental protection, peace and help for the poor and oppressed.

Watch her performance at Occupy Wall Street, after the break.

The Draft Resistance

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Positive anti-smoking ads: not a new strategy

Posted by Tom Megginson | 19-09-2012 00:57 | Category: Vintage

We post quite a bit about how social marketing is changing, moving from the “shock” ads of the ‘70s and ‘80s to a more positive, normalizing and reinforcing approach.

Today, I saw this 1966 campaign on Retronaut, and was reminded once again that there is nothing new under the sun:


The “how much you could save by quitting” argument is still used today, by the UK’s National Health Service. It is also being used in New Zealand the United States and elsewhere.

Just imagine the savings if you had quit 46 years ago!

Another ad from the campaign after the break.


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Dirty Harry’s war on drugs

Posted by Tom Megginson | 27-08-2012 14:04 | Category: Vintage


Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?

Back in 1987, Clint Eastwood joined the Reagan administration’s “War on Drugs,” appearing in a series of cinema PSAs funded by the Motion Pictures Association of America. The ads were shot by the now-defunct Weintraub Entertainment Group, the production company responsible for My Stepmother Is an Alien.

As America’s first “Hollywood” President, Ronald Reagan attracted celebrity power to government-endorsed campaigns. In this cinema PSA, Mr. Eastwood channels his Dirty Harry character, which was being resurrected for the last instalment in the franchise, The Dead Pool. (With a historically notable appearance by a young Jim Carrey fronting Guns and Roses.)

Crack cocaine was a huge social panic in the 1980s, with public health authorities. (It’s still a problem, but the “epidemic” ended in the ‘90s as crime rates fell overall.)

After the break, see Clint Eastwood joined by Nancy Reagan, the First Lady of “Just Say No” to drugs.

Motion Pictures Association of America
Weintraub Entertainment Group Inc.
Huffington Post

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Vintage Frank Zappa dental health PSAs

Posted by Tom Megginson | 20-08-2012 23:25 | Category: Health, Vintage

[photo via blogspot]

These three radio PSAs for the American Dental Association are 20+ years old, but are a fresh discovery for me that I just had to share.

Fans of Zappa’s bizarre but exacting work with enjoy hearing his humour injected into these otherwise-plain PSAs. You might even catch the naughty “Catholic Girls” lyric reference (from 1979’s Joe’s Garage) subversively thrown in on the third spot.

American Dental Association
Dangerous Minds

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