Why 1955 matters, a lot

We seem to be so very taken by ourselves and the technological advances of the day. But so much of what is reality today isn’t much different from a bygone era. The scope has obviously expanded. But, in essence, the “revolution” of what has materialized today has been around for decades.

“Challenge to America” is a fascinating timepiece of a film produced in 1955 by the advertising industry. What first pops out is the unabashed optimism. Ironically, as optimistic as the film’s producers were, they still grossly undershot their projection for the United States economy. They predicted GDP would rise from $360 billion in 1955 to $500 billion in 1965. In fact, the GDP in 1965 soared to $685 billion. Yet the numbers are but one piece of a much larger narrative.

Modern marketing was born. And since this was a film produced by ad men, it’s not surprising that marketing is positively presented as the indispensable driver of modernity and an economy on steroids. But they make a convincing case and one that stands the test of time. As the mediums for messaging and selling have evolved, its core from the ’50s hasn’t. It’s about aspiration, of all types. Marketing doesn’t begin when it’s time to advertise and promote a product or service. It begins with the actual development of the product or service.

Creativity. Creativity, the expansiveness of thought, has trumped just about everything else in the world, as evidenced by the ascendancy of the United States. If there is a danger for the country going forward, it will be in forgetting what got us here in the first place. An obsession with technology will leave little room to appreciate why it matters in the first place, why it’s a means and not an end. A lack of investment effectively kills good ideas. Neglecting our children via inferior education and selfish adults squanders our greatest national treasure and purpose for being. But we can hope our collective creativity will find a way to avoid these death traps.

Leave a Reply