"Adman vs. The Beatles: Who Drove ’60s Culture?"
1967: The year everyone admitted they’d tried LSD and every advertisement got a rainbow makeover. Clairol cosmetics launched a line of “3 psychedelicious beiges,” Top Job kitchen cleaner had a woman roll around on a kitchen floor to show how clean it was, and Gordon’s gin aligned itself with the Liverpool Sound. Creativity in ads was becoming conformity. Put a miniskirt on it, call it young, and then call it a day. Everyone was copying everyone else’s nods at nonconformity and managing to conform to the same template. As consumer culture caught up with the images of counterculture that advertising had been feeding it throughout the decade, ad culture seemed to reach the outer limits of which shocking ideas their clients were willing to explore.
Art, movies, and music moved to the forefront of counterculture and embraced the concept of the antihero in a big way. From Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate and Lucas Jackson in Cool Hand Luke to the emergence of Jim Morrison and The Doors to the art-rock of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, we were swimming in unconventional idols. That’s when The Beatles dropped Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the world, causing Brian Wilson to have a breakdown and The Rolling Stones to attempt to recreate the weird chemistry on Their Satanic Majesties Request. The latter went back to what they did best — being a great bar-blues band — but The Beatles had broken through as studio wizards able to pull disparate elements together into a concept album. If anyone was breaking all the rules in 1967, while still delighting the masses, it was The Beatles.