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Sep 9, 2009

Creative Ad Slogans of the 1960s


Photo Credit: Derek Tait, from his book  "Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans - A Childhood in Singapore and Malaya".

This “National”ad of the 1960s has an interesting slogan which is simple, catchy and easy to remember. Most of the young ones will not know about this slogan, I believe.

The portable radio and tape-recorder are now museum pieces, I guess. The products are now obsolete, casualties of modern technology. Today, the Apple iPod has combined both the radio and tape recorders and miniaturized these devices into a handy, pocket-sized gadget with more and better features.



The slogan "Those who know buy NATIONAL”hinted that those who buy brands other than NATIONAL, are lesser-informed, ignorant consumers with no product knowledge.

“Know” here means [识货] or “putt heh” in Hokkien., "Seck Fo" in Cantonese.

There is a Chinese saying – [ 不怕货比货, 只怕不识货 ] (Not afraid of comparison among products, only afraid that you don’t know the products) This is a literary translation from the Chinese language, thus most of the profound meaning and expression are lost in translation.

In the early days when advertisements were “uncool” and do not have multi-media effects, multi-colored 3-D graphic and beautiful models to titillate the human sense organs, it's the creative slogans which stay on people's lips...they remember the slogans better than they can remember the brands of the products.

A few weeks after the "NATIONAL” slogan was launched, another electronic product manufacturer which was a close competitor, released their "trump card" slogan....

We know BETTER. We buy the BEST...we buy PAN ELECTRIC

The competitor's slogan was subtle, insidious and crisp....no name calling propaganda technique used; but we all know which brand Pan Electric was targeting at by a mere hint. Pan Electric was not brought to court for the slogan challenge. The brand died of natural death about two decades ago, while “NATIONAL” is still around.

Nonetheless, the effectiveness of ad slogans is disputable. Advertising in the mass media, in whatever format, are used for publicity purposes and marketing of products and services. Ultimately, it is the consumers who decide which product to buy. These decisions are not based entirely on creative slogan campaigns.

I am still searching for this long-lost advertisement. If anyone has a copy of the ad, I would appreciate if you could kindly email it to me for posting on this blog.

In the automobile industry, the funky slogans in the same genre are:

Volkswagen: "Sell it and buy a VOLKSWAGEN”.

Volvo rolled out the slogan challenge with “We sold IT and bought a VOLVO”.

Computer ads quickly jumped on the merry slogan bandwagon and were not to be outdone:

In 1914, IBM launched the “THINK” ad slogan.

Several decades later, Apple challenged boldly and provocatively with “THINK DIFFERENT” in a series of ads showing photos of famous people (Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, etc) who dared to think different.

I wondered how Apple ever got the copyright permission to use these famous names. Was it because Apple knew that it could never be sued by non-living persons?

These few interesting slogans are resurrected from my failing memories. I am sure there are many more, and would like to invite nostalgia fans who remembered these subtle "tug-of-war" ads in the 1960s to help add on to the list, to revive our collective memories of fun things to remember.

We don't see any more of these stuff nowadays. Is it due to the advertising code of ethic regulations or other legal issues?

Long before "creative thinking and innovative training courses" reached our shores in recent times, people were already using their brains....(tongue in cheek ; )


The 10-storey high steel structure above the National Showroom displaying ‘Those who know buy NATIONAL”neon-lit ad, a prominent landmark along North Bridge Road (now the location of Peninsula Plaza). Photo Credit: Peter Chan.

Please visit Victor Koo’s blog at  here  to learn more about this Singapore heritage building and other "National" electronic products.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Lam Chun See said...

The National slogan I remember well is; "National creates better living" which I understand is an embodiment of the founder, Konosuke Matsuhita's philosophy.

September 11, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

"We don't see anymore of these stuff nowadays."

Not true. Sbout the Volkswagen tagline you mentioned in the article, have you heard the latest? They have a whole series. One of them is "15 million couples have made love in it".

Oops, sorry. Still can't seem to be able to break away from my favorite topic. :p

September 11, 2009 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Victor, Victor. Even tho you are so predictable, nobody could have predicted this.

September 12, 2009 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger unk Dicko said...

Will check among my "karang-guni" archives of old newspapers and clippings and see if I can find what you are lookin for.

September 12, 2009 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

I have been using the National portable tape recorder before. It belonged to my uncle. Bookies used a tape recorder to record bets for horse racing.

September 13, 2009 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for dropping by and adding your comments, Chun See, Victor, Uncle Dicko, and Philip.

I am waiting for Uncle Dicko to retrieve the old "Pan Electric" newspaper ad.

The "karang-guni" is big biz in the "recycling industry". The value is not in the wastepaper. Its the contents in your old newspaper archive as resource materials for research which is valuable. Thanks for helping to recycle knowledge to the young...its not rubbish any more!

September 15, 2009 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger unk Dicko said...

Still at it...going through my yellowed papers and in the process rediscovered some really old gems!
Found the original 1942 S Times front page when Japan attacked Singapore in February that year.
Thought i had lost it somehow. It was given to me for keepsake by my late father-in-law back in the late 60's.
Will keep all you all posted.

September 15, 2009 at 3:25 AM  
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May 22, 2015 at 8:11 PM  

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