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Marketing Nostalgia- 9 ads that stay way ahead of time

Updated: Mar 23

It's no secret that radio has a rich history in advertising. Radio was one of the first mass media channels, and its mass reach made it a great tool for advertisers long before TV and online advertisements became popular.

With more than 100 years of industry, there are many classic ads that stand the test of time.

The History of Radio Day Ads

Radio day ads were first introduced in the 1930s, but then became popular during the 80s. They were meant to entertain and entice listeners into spending more time with a brand.

The idea behind radio day ads was that they would provide entertainment for listeners throughout their workday, which resulted in increased brand awareness.

Radio day ads have been around for such a long time, that it could be argued that they are no longer effective for marketing purposes. In fact, some of these old-school ads seem like they would fail miserably today because of their outdated tone and use of audio technology.

Nowadays, radio day ads are most often used by broadcast networks or big brands to reach out to audiences who don’t have access to digital media and social media outlets. In this way, radio day ads are still very much relevant and effective today-- just not as much as they once were.

Radio day ads have been around for a long time. They're no longer just for the radio, but can now also be seen on TV and in digital media. But is it still effective to release a radio day ad these days? We'll find out. Here are 7 examples of old-school radio ads that were ahead of their time.

  1. IBM- Startup Business Campaigns

IBM's latest radio day ad features a young boy who wants to take over his father's business selling ironing boards when his dad retires but doesn't think he can do it without help from IBM technology. With references to movies like "Iron Man" and "Star Wars", this ad is not only entertaining but also provides an important message for startup business owners.

2. Radio Shack- The Foundry

We all know Radio Shack as one of the leading stores for electronics. But have you seen any ads before? I doubt it. They only started airing commercials in 2005 which featured their new store design and high-tech equipment they offer at low prices. The ad is similar to an infomercial, which makes sense since that was what this company was originally founded as.

3. American Express- Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

This old radio ad features a woman who has been waiting for her husband for 5 years and decides that she will wait no more and decides to marry herself because she doesn't want her husband to die without knowing that she loves him so much despite his absence. There are many theories about why this ad was brought back from the dead, but what we do know is that it's pretty creative and thought provoking.

4. Pepsi- The Pepsi Challenge

This one was a great attempt in appealing to the younger generation. It lets the audience know that they can win prizes just by watching TV. The ad shows kids with different "dietary restrictions' ' watching a game on TV and then being told they're going to get a prize if they eat Pepsi during halftime.

5. Adidas- "Just Do It" Video

Adidas continued the trend of creating commercials for radios by releasing this iconic video with Michael Jordan as its main focus, on top of other famous athletes like Magic Johnson and Muhammad Ali. Although it was for TV, Adidas still effectively conveyed their message through the media they had available at the time.

6. Coca Cola- Classic 1940s Radio Ad Campaign

This is one of the earliest examples of marketing on radio that I've come across so far, which came out in 1939. This commercial is quite old school but still conveys some valuable information about Coca Cola as an all around international brand that you can't find anywhere else.

7. McDonald's: "I'm Lovin' It" Radio Spot

This ad campaign was released in 2001 and features Ronald McDonald himself talking about what he loves most: burgers and fries! With such a clever theme, it only makes sense that it would be highly successful within its target audience (children).

8. Jeep

This radio day ad is all about the brand’s rich history, sounds like a typical marketing campaign right? Wrong. It features four short pieces of jazz. The ads are instantly recognizable because of their jazzy tones and the use of old school sound effects.

9 .Procter & Gamble

This one may seem like a typical radio day ad but it's anything but generic. Instead, it uses its own personal story to talk about how the company has always been there for feedback from its consumers. It also talks about how their products have helped people through tough times in their lives. It's a heartfelt message that you don't hear very often on radio day ads these days!


Most people are familiar with the radio day ads because they were a popular form of marketing back in the day. These commercials had many different mediums, and it was difficult to escape them.

Radio day ads are still prevalent today, but they’re not nearly as effective. They’ve been replaced by digital advertising, which is more direct and easier for brands to reach their customers. That being said, these ads have a lot of value because they were ahead of their time.

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