Continuing our “History of Advertising” series, we’re on to the 1980s! Believe it or not, the 80s had more to offer than just bright colors and big hair. Advertising in the 1980s strongly influenced the development of agencies in the United States and abroad.

Also known as the “decade of the deal,” the 1980s was a decade of agency buyouts and takeovers. In fact, of the 100 largest advertisers in 1980, only 33% were still independent by 1990. The largest buyout of the decade was by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co with their purchase of Nabisco for $25 billion.


The TV industry was revolutionized during the 1980s. Cable channels prospered, and VCRs allowed viewers to skip through commercials. CNN began selling advertising worldwide, which offered companies the ability to advertise worldwide, reaching an audience they had not been able to reach.

Home shopping services developed in the 1980s as well. Rather than purchasing the airtime for advertising from cable operators, these networks paid cable operators a percentage of the their home shopping profits. The infomercial also became prominent, and soon one of the fastest-growing areas in TV advertising.

Advertising That Makes You Money

That's what we do for you.

Advertising In The 1980s

Pepsi-Cola changed it slogan in the 1980s (from “Pepsi generation” to “Choice of a new generation”) and contracted Michael Jackson in one of the largest celebrity endorsement agreements in advertising history.

Another top icon that emerged during the 1980s was the Energizer Bunny, known as the “ultimate product demo” for positioning the product (long-lived batteries) in a unique, inventive way.

“Where’s The Beef?”

Yep, the Wendy’s slogan soon made Clara Peller a star when she appeared in what we now consider a “classic” commercial. Also in the burger industry, Burger King achieved the “most elaborate advertising flop of the decade” with “Herb,” the man who had never had a Whopper.

Advertising in the 1980s was largely centered around TV advertising. One reason for this was because of the Reagan re-election campaign. In fact, President Reagan significantly altered the traditional relationship between politics and the media. His ad team planned announcements to be seen by large TV audiences, and staged news events for maximum media coverage, proving the power of visual media.

Isn’t it interesting how advertising has changed over the years? Well stay tuned, because it only gets better from here…tomorrow, we’re taking on the 90s!

By | 2015-06-23T08:00:48+00:00 June 23rd, 2015|Advertising, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author: