After the Stone Age came the Iron Age, then the Industrial Age, and now the Age of Advertising. Regardless of what the experts say, we are not living in the age of a consumer economy, but of an advertising economy.
With companies trading for billions without producing proportional revenue — or any at all — we can only imagine how far things can go and how far the markets will climb before this latest bubble bursts, exposed for the pyramid scheme that it is. Indeed, the inability to distinguish between reality and illusion is precisely the goal of modern advertising.
Nevertheless, there is some small hope that escape from its influence might still be possible, no matter how far its tendrils have reached. That evidence comes in the person of Julian Keonig, perhaps the greatest legend in advertising history, who passed away last year at age 93.
Readers of a certain age will remember the classic Timex slogan, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” and the self-validating tagline for the Volkswagen Beetle — think small — voted the most successful ad of the last century. Both were the creations of Julian Keonig; but neither was what he considered his most inspired brainstorm.
And neither provides us with an insight into his most important legacy.