By Tèmítáyọ̀ Ọlọ́finlúà
Adverts speak. They can tell about a particular period in history. We stumbled on some adverts from the 70s and 80s. They made us ask questions about adverts today.
Question 1: where are the price tags on advertised products today? When did the prices get unbelievably high?
It was cool to show the price of all the products on the adverts then. And the prices said a lot. Those were much better days. Those were the days when my mother would say that she bought a dining table set for something as ridiculous as N20. Those were the days when the naira had value. Those days when many wore the proudly Nigerian hats anywhere. Sadly, all we—those who belong to the 80s and beyond—know will be these extremely expensive products. Better days were done before we came.
Question 2: When did the clothes creep out of the adverts? Which is another way of saying when did the sexualisation of products start?
Those were the days when adverts served the purpose of the products, or so it seems. You did not see soap adverts with dancing girls. My Uncle would see those adverts and ask: ẹ jọ̀ọ́, ṣé ọṣẹ yẹn máa n jẹ kí a mọ̀ọ́ jó ni? Meaning “Does the soap make one a good dancer?” Soap adverts had appropriate images. Same with cream adverts. And yes, it was fine to be covered as a woman, even in an advert.
Question 3: Can adverts from the past tell us about dinosaurs of the manufacturing industry? Can they be like museums of the past that we can refer to to have an idea of a particular time?
At least, these adverts tell us about some products and services have gone into oblivion in Nigeria.
When will the era of quoting literary greats especially in adverts return? How cool can it be to advertise an insurance company with a Soyinka quote?
Maybe it is time for the world of advertising and literature to kiss and make up. Some lines of Nigerian poetry will make great copy for adverts, don’t you think? A friendship between both industries will be both industries scratching the back of one another.
Question 5: Where are the adverts that celebrate values as Nigerians? Say all-round beauty in women like this Lotus advert…
All images were from past editions of Emotan Magazine.