Seventies cool

Lately, it seems, the feel-good '70s are on the minds of marketers, who are hustling to capitalize on baby boomers' nostalgia, as well as youth's fascination with that decade's outrageous style....

Lately, it seems, the feel-good ’70s are on the minds of marketers, who are hustling to capitalize on baby boomers’ nostalgia, as well as youth’s fascination with that decade’s outrageous style.

‘In the early 1990s, they were using ’60s memorabilia,’ points out Toronto-based media observer John Corcelli. ‘Now, the ’70s have pervaded pop culture across the board.’

In fact, the trend in advertising has been fueled by pop culture’s obsession with the disco decade, which has hit a high thanks to the silver-screen emergence of ’70s TV characters, including Charlie’s Angels, Shaft and soon-to-be rediscovered Josie & the Pussycats, along with the influence of That ’70s Show on the small screen.

Consider the latest TV spots for The Bay – flashy, with graphics in hideous-yet-somehow-still-hip hues like mustard – they are quintessential Angels, minus the feathered hair.

Jim Twitchell, a pop culture professor at the University of Florida says retro advertising is an ideal way to span generations: ‘Nothing is more compelling to adolescents than mockery of Mom and Dad and nothing is more comforting to Mom and Dad than the fact they are still remembered.’ The Bay is trying to attract consumers as young as 25, admits Fedun. ‘It would appeal to a younger market because it’s new to them,’ he says.

Eatons recently slipped into the disco decade too, with its latest ‘aubergine’ ad. The spot features hipsters moving to funky music, with ’70s-style furniture in the background. For his part, Fedun isn’t fazed by the fact that both stores have adopted a ’70s vibe. ‘It’s a global trend,’ he says. ‘You see it in all the magazines.’

Fashion retailers aren’t the only ones pulling out emblems from the ’70s. Canadian Tire recently yanked the ‘banana bike’ out of the has-been pile. Geared at dirt-jumping enthusiasts and wildly popular with kids 30 years ago, the CCM Mustang bicycle, with its adjustable seat saddle and chopper-style handlebars, will be back on the streets this spring, this time in a groovy gold.

South of the border, even The Minute Maid Company got down with the trend when it cast Wonder Woman – who starred in her own campy ’70s TV show – as the feature of a print advertising campaign for its Extra Vitamins C and E plus Zinc orange juice. The ad implies there is quite a difference between the average professional woman and the fit-and-feisty, lasso-throwing superhero, who happens to drink the concoction.

‘Consumers, especially baby boomers, relate to her,’ says Dan Schafer, a spokesperson at the Houston, Tex.-based company, who adds that Health Canada regulations need to be worked out before the product can be introduced here. ‘It’s a touchstone they can hearken back to.’

What’s next? The Incredible Hulk as a spokesperson for AGF Funds?