Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Route 66 classic ads

I often wonder how our advertisements today will stand the test of time. For the most part, I think we are becoming more and more desensitized to them. Product placement in movies and shows is no longer amusing nor subtle. It is with a sarcastic scorn that I wonder just how much the producers of Bones are getting off of Toyota or what the Leverage guys get from Hyundai per episode. The Island might as well have had Sponsored by Microsoft stamped in the corner of the screen during the movie. And is there any TV ad today that we will look back on with the same fondness as the Michael J. Fox Pepsi ads? (And no, I'm not talking about Back to the Future I & II).

But, I digress, pretty much just because I wanted to make that Back to the Future joke (saw it in theaters last night, anyone else?).  What I really want to talk about are roadside ads, specifically those of the classic Route 66 variety. Route 66ers love their vintage ads, especially if they are witty or gigantic. The most famous strange ads along Route 66 are Burma Shave signs, Muffler Men, and barn ads. The average billboard need not apply.

The Burma Shave corporation took a tongue in cheek view of advertising along the mother road. Signs were placed along the side and read while driving, forming a complete (rhyming) thought. I didn't actually see any out on the road, but I spotted these gems at Hackberry General Store and the Route 66 Museum.


Route 66

Route 66

Then there are the Muffler Men. These are very large statues of Paul Bunyan-esque men who used to hold giant mufflers. These men, now decommissioned, became infinitely more interesting by the objects they now hold to advertise altogether different businesses.

Route 66

Route 66

And finally, barn ads used to be quite popular along the route, but have since been deemed illegal. Usually for feed supply or local attractions, there remains one prominent barn ad that is maintained by Route 66 preservationists. Blink and you'll miss this roadside attraction. It's just a pullout off the main drag in Illinois nowadays, but Route 66 historic route signs will lead you to it if you're looking.

Route 66

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