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The history of the advertising film – an exciting journey through time

Advertising films are always a mirror of the prevailing social structures and sensitivities. That is what makes their story so exciting. They are as old as the medium of film itself – but it was the nationwide supply of televisions that gave advertising films the radiance that can move markets and boost sales. The dramaturgy and content of the advertising films have inevitably changed and adapted.

If you want to know why the first steps of (television) advertising films were a hairy affair, and why “1984” is more than a famous George Orwell novel, follow us through the exciting history of advertising films.


    What exactly is an advertising film?

    A brief definition to get started: An advertising film is a short, very concise film that is usually ten to a maximum of 60 seconds long. The aim is to draw attention to a product, a brand or a service and to promote its sales. The provision of detailed information – as in an image film or documentary film – is not in the foreground.

    Advertising films should ideally be commissioned from a specialised and experienced film production company from Vienna, such as Das R&, so that it is guaranteed that all dramaturgical and audio-visual means are exhausted to achieve an optimal effect with the advertising spot in the cinema, on television and in social media.

    The 1950s: The television gives the advertising film a broad impact

    Strictly speaking, what is historically considered to be the first television advertising film was not actually a commercial – because it was way too long. It was about a permanent wave product that was presented on 5 November 1931 at a London hairdressing trade fair – and broadcast on television.

    Far more common as the starting point for the triumphant advance of television advertising films in German-speaking countries is therefore 3 November 1956: Persil broadcasts its first detergent advertising film on television: And this meets the generation of the economic boom, ready to consume, and in which there will soon be a television set in every household across the board.

    Fernseher Retro
    Television quickly became a popular pastime

    For the first time, advertising films have a broad impact and are no longer restricted to a temporary audience in the cinema. In the 1950s, they were primarily used to promote products. And at the same time they cement the classic division of roles between men and women.

    The 1960s and 1970s: Using advertising figures and brand faces against the competition

    In the course of the 1960s, product supply and demand initially achieve an even balance, which will tip at the latest by the early 1970s in favour of an oversized consumer range.

    Advertising films are now being used specifically to set companies apart from the competition in order to reach defined target groups. Advertising agencies and film production companies develop new creative forms to give brands and products a recognition value, a catchy image. Jingles and slogans are conquering celluloid along with advertising characters and brand faces.

    The quick-tempered HB man writes (advertising) film history as a cartoon character for the cigarette brand HB, the burly, friendly and smiling Meister Proper becomes the epitome of the sparkling clean household. Clementine for Ariel and Mr. Kaiser from Hamburg-Mannheimer insurance.

    The early brand ambassadors achieved something sensational: They become common knowledge and even find their way into everyday language. The expression “HB man” in particular becomes proverbial for a character who “easily blows his lid”. Spurred on by these successes, more and more companies are spending ever larger amounts on the production of advertising films.

    The 1980s and 1990s: The search for the unique selling point

    As a reaction to continuously increasing competition and the growing flood of advertising films that goes with it, the “search” for unique selling points begins in the 1980s.

    The USP, the “Unique Selling Proposition” or the “Unique Selling Point”, dominates the marketing process. The unique selling point, through which a product or service stands out from what is offered by the competition, also comes to the fore in advertising films.

    The successful introduction of new products in saturated markets is only possible with surprising and curious, occasionally simply amusing or puzzling messages, which are preferably conveyed by advertising films.

    With a lot of creativity and know-how, we ensure that your advertising film hits the “nerve” of your target group and, in the best case, goes viral.

    The computer manufacturer Apple sets a milestone with its legendary advertising film “1984”. In a scene that the surveillance society adapts from George Orwell’s “1984”, a woman smashes the huge screen over which “Big Brother” rules with a hammer. She is wearing a top with a blurred image of the first Macintosh computer. The voice starts from the off: “Today we introduce the Apple Computer Macintosh and you will understand why 1984 will never be like ‘1984’.”

    From 2000: Disenchantment with advertising: advertising films are reinventing themselves

    With this advertising film, Apple, with frontman Steve Jobs, anticipate a development that began in the 90s and reached its (preliminary) climax from 2000: Product advertising in general is increasingly perceived as annoying.

    While advertising films were celebrated a few years earlier as events with a certain cult status, there is currently increasing disaffection and aversion. The industry recognizes the deficit and focuses on advertising that no longer feels like advertising.

    As with Apple, the focus is no longer on the product, but on a story, a short story or the trust bonus that famous testimonials bring with them.

    From 2010: Social media and content marketing: Advertising is thought of differently

    From 2010 onwards, with the rise of the Internet, with new platforms from YouTube to Instagram to Snapchat, and the social media network in general, there will be a new revolution.

    Pure push marketing has finally become obsolete; it is being replaced by content marketing, including video content marketing, which aims to offer potential customers tangible added value. Values such as sustainability and climate protection shape buying behaviour of a customer base, which can be precisely defined and analysed with the help of algorithms and user data.

    The art of producing a really good advertising film is to intelligently translate the available data and user profiles into an emotional message that hits the audience in the heart – and stays in their head – in a way that is specific to the target group.


    Advertising films are – as their story impressively shows – always a mirror on society. And they reflect back on it. If you want to launch a successful advertising film in Austria, you not only need a film production company that is technically well-positioned, it should also know your target group very well.

    Advertising films by our film production company from Vienna are fun, open up new perspectives, touch, stimulate and inform the audience. You can make history.

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