Free online archive of vintage TV commercials

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.


The Hartman Center at Duke University has just launched AdViews, a collection of thousands of TV commercials from the 1950s-1980s, all from the archives of ad agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Early spots for IBM computers, Hasbro, Squibb, and a bunch of others are here. I especially enjoyed the Pampers spots; the narrative in them is so hilariously forced, it's almost porn-like. These ads don't promote a brand so much as the concept of disposability -- still a new idea at the time.

Unfortunately, the videos aren't nearly as accessible as the print ads in the other Duke/Hartman archives--they're on an iTunes channel, which allows for downloading but not much else. The archive is still a work in progress, though, and greater accessibility is planned for the future.

(Thanks, Skip!)