Tag Archives: Batman

Power Of Persuasion

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2023

Growing up in the 60s and early 70s we had it pretty good I reckon.

On our piece of the rock there were no wars, pandemics or civil unrest. True, there was the odd power cut in the early 70s due to the miners strikes, but I remember that being more an adventure-under-candle-light than any real form of hardship.

Apart from the normal growing pains and adolescent insecurities, life was pretty good, and yet, I always had the notion that we weren’t living our best life…. like our counterparts in America.

So, what was this grand social insight based on?
Academic studies? Penetrating documentaries? First hand experience?

Nope, it was based on the only lens I had of the world back then (outside of the National Geographic’s we used to thumb-through in Geography lessons, hoping to discover topless tribeswoman)….
American comics, or to be more specific American comic ads.

To a 10 year old raised on The Beano, the ads featured on the inside covers of American comics were as spellbinding as the comics themselves.

How lucky were those Kids of America (whoa oh), that they had access to the types of treasures we could only dream of owning…


Life size Monsters, Rocket Ships, Nuclear Subs. Sea Monkeys, X-ray specs, Electric engine’s, and Physique’s like Charles Atlas, there seemed no end to the toys, gadgets and goodies on offer across the pond.

I was fortunate to have a great aunt (in both senses of the word), who emigrated to the Big Apple in the early 60s.
My aunt Marj was a PA for a publishing company in Manhattan and a couple of times a year she would send me over a bundle of American comics… bless her heart.

Whenever I caught sight of that package with the airmail stamp I knew I was in for a treat, and they never disappointed – countless capers with Richie Rich, Casper and Archie & his friends (oh sugar sugar).
Adventures with the Justice League, the Green Lantern, the Hulk, Thor and Spiderman, I would devour those comic-books cover to cover until every word was consumed, including the adverts, especially the adverts.

This led to a mild obsession with all things Americana for a few years which to be fair was supported by other cultural happenings from the era.

Take television for example, my favourite 60s tv programmes were mostly American….
The Monkees, The Man from Uncle, The Munsters, The Adams Family, Lost in Space and the Tex Avery cartoon universe.


We weren’t exactly an underprivileged society, but it seemed that our American cousins were a step ahead in most aspects of life.

At a time when our cultural cheer-leaders were the pipe-smoking Harold Wilson and ‘Enry “splash it all over” Cooper, the US could point to the charismatic JFK and ‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali.

Our standout orator was Enoch Powell their’s was Martin Luther King.

When we were getting excited about the new Ford Escort they were pimping up Ford Grand Torino’s.

When denim became fashionable, we rolled out Falmers Jeans they already had the originals – Levis, Wrangler, Lee.

When it came to bench-mark resorts there was no debate, Blackpool Pleasure Beach versus The Magic Kingdom was simply no contest.

For balance, it’s fair to say that a case could be made for biased-reasoning on all of the above and of course for every JFK there was a ‘Tricky Dicky’ Nixon, for every MLK there was a KKK and for every Woodstock with its 3 Days of Peace, Love & Harmony there was an Altamont with murderous Hells Angels killing the vibe.

The grass ain’t always greener, but those ‘Mad Men’ of Madison Avenue sure made it look that way.

Pioneers in their field, the US advertising gurus of the 60s & 70s built brands and shifted products by selling dreams and fuelling aspirations.

They convinced at least one generation that smoking cigarettes would make them look cool and attractive to the opposite sex, and that eating sugary breakfast cereals would turn their kids into Olympic Champions, just like Bruce Jenner (if only they knew!).

There was nothing these guys couldn’t sell when they put their mind to it.
Need confirmation?

Check out the 7up ad below.

So when it came to marketing toys to impressionable kids, it was lambs to the slaughter.
What chance did we have when our parents were already entrapped?
And if they weren’t entrapped why the hell did we have a K-tel Veg-o-matic and a Ronco Hair-Trimmer sitting redundant in the cupboard?

My first brush with marketing came with the Jet Rocket Ship below.
As soon as I saw the ad for that bad-boy I was obsessed, I had to have one.
I had the equivalent of 5 bucks in my piggy bank and we had a garden, what else did I need?

I asked my Mum, if I could send money to auntie Marj so she could ship one over. Or maybe she could fly across in one on her next visit? (I wasn’t the brightest kid!).

Not giving her a minutes rest, I gradually wore my mum down to the point of submission, but ever the realist, my dad who was the real gate-keeper, saw through the glossy, targeted advertising with all its features and benefits, still reeling no-doubt from the Veg-o-matic debacle, he predicted it would be a piece of crap… in turn, jettisoning the jet.

What you thought you were getting
What you actually got!

As it turned out my dad was right, of course he was right, and although I was pissed-off at the time, he was trying to teach this gullible 10 year old a valuable life-lesson…. if it’s too good to be true, it probably is

I’m guessing they received plenty of orders for that five dollar interplanetary rocket with ‘enough room for two air cadets‘ and ‘control levers that work!’

I’m also guessing that 95% of people who received one probably wanted to send it back once they opened the box.

Based on what I know now, I’d predict that only about 20% of purchasers would actually have sent anything back.

Net result?
Lots of sales but very few satisfied customers.

And that my friends is the power of advertising!

Btw, don’t worry about the 7up kid he turned out just fine….

THE WAITING GAME.

“What are you doing, dear?” my Mum asked upon seeing me sat on the living room floor while my pals played out on the street.

“I’m going to watch Thunderbirds.”

“You’re a bit early – it’s not on for another ten minutes.”

“I know – but I’m waiting for the television to warm up.”

This would have been the mid to late Sixties, and our temperamental  14” black and white TV set behaved like a reluctant old dog being forced out for a walk on a windy and wet winter’s day. Grudgingly, it would eventually do what was asked of it, but not without putting up an obstinate fight.

At nine or ten years old, I just went with it. This was the way things were. ‘Instant’ was a word only just creeping into my vocabulary – mainly because my Mum persisted in serving up the disgusting, powdered, butterscotch or strawberry ‘Instant Whip’ for our evening meal dessert.

Butterscotch Instrant Whip

That television experience, though, taught me the virtue of patience at a very early age. You know: ‘good things come to those that wait,’ and all that. It stood me in good stead for my early teen years in the Seventies.

For instance, when I first started going to gigs (1973) I‘d turn up at the venue, usually The Apollo, a few weeks before the show and queue up for tickets. Concerts by the popular bands of the day, invariably meant queues for tickets would form well before the Box Office opened. Like hundreds of other kids, I’d happily wait in the rain (it was always raining in Glasgow in the Seventies) my loons becoming progressively more saturated from the top of my platform shoes up to my crotch. But the shared anticipation of seeing our heroes perform and the communal spirit that engendered made the waiting worthwhile. The wait heightened anticipation.

Overnight queue at The Apollo, Glasgow.

Not like today when any prospective gig-goer logs in to some online Ticket Agency from the comfort of their home and then makes a contactless card payment for some inordinate amount of money for a show in perhaps eleven months’ time.

Letters. We were quite happy to wait a couple of weeks for replies. Maybe, as an alternative to queuing up at The Apollo, we’d send a postal order and S.A.E. to the Ticket Office and hope upon hope we were successful in our application. Again, the wait heightened the anticipation.

Airmail envelopes for our pen pals.

Remember ‘pen-friends?’ Cub Scout and Brownie packs readily promoted the concept; comics and magazines also carried adverts from kids living in what were to us, strange and exotic places the world over. They would ask we write to them, and if Kenji from Tokyo hadn’t outgrown the notion of having a ‘pen friend’ from the UK by the time your letter arrived, then you might receive a reply some many weeks down the line.

On the other hand with no reply forthcoming, you eventually realised Kenji was just a timewaster. At least though, you’d had twelve weeks of excitedly greeting the postman at your door in the hope he brought news from the Far East. If nothing else, at least the wait heightened anticipation for a while.

We’d also happily wait till the following Saturday teatime for the latest episode of Batman – same Bat time ; same Bat channel. Not like today, when we can binge on series Box Sets streamed instantaneously into our homes or mobile device.

Best tv show of The Sixties / Seventies

We’d wait keenly on the sound of the ice cream van chimes – mentally salivating at the thought of a couple Bazooka Joes, a bag of Salt ’n ’Vinegar crisps and if the ‘icey’ was in benevolent mood, some free broken biscuits.

In those days, Time was not pressing; the wait was expected and accepted.

Now, everything is pretty much instant – or close to. We want something? It’s available at the flick of a switch or press of a button.

There are though, some instances where the trend is completely skewed; instances where what used to be quick and efficient are now unnecessarily burdened by delay. Rather than the wait building anticipation, it has now become a source of angst.

In The Seventies, getting an appointment with your doctor was pretty quick. Now …?

In The Seventies, if your favourite top division football team scored a peach of a goal, you could celebrate instantly as the ball crossed the line. Now …?

Aaaargh! VAR check!

In The Seventies, if you were stood at a bar behind some bloke ordering five pints of ‘Heavy’ for his mates, you knew, with confidence, you’d be served within the next few minutes. Now …?

Now, you’re stood behind some geezer ordering five Porn Star Cocktails for his mates. Comprising vanilla-flavoured vodka, Passoã, passion fruit juice, and lime juice, they each take five minutes to prepare and must be mixed by bar-staff with a degree in Chemical Engineering and an eye for artistic detail.

Now, that particular wait heightens agitation!

Porn Star cocktail

Maybe though, the technological advancements of the past five decades have spoilt us somewhat? Perhaps our expectations of ‘instant’ are unreasonable? Will Future’s youth appreciate the concept of patience?

You know, I have many things for which to be thankful about my life. Who’d have considered though, that for instilling an acceptance of The Wait all those years ago, a small, battered, old black and white tv set would be one of them?

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson from Glasgow – March 2023)

(Only three songs beginning with either the word ‘Wait,’ or ‘Waiting’ entered the UK charts in the 1970s. Here’s two of them – the third, ‘Wait Until Midnight’ by Yellow Dog, is pretty crap, I’m sad to say.)