Ancient Ad Remains


One of the very first accounts I worked on (many, many years ago) was Panasonic. They had a full time out-of-home presence on the Lincoln Tunnel helix. On my morning commute into NYC last week, I had a glimpse into the past.

There, where Panasonic ads used to reside, was a semi-naked billboard awaiting new creative. The above picture is the remains of an old Palmcorder ad. I guess ‘old’ is redundant. When was the last time you heard the word ‘Palmcorder’ (let alone ‘Camcorder’)?

It was only half a generation ago when dads would be seen at youth soccer games and school talent shows taping their kids. Yes, taping. And they probably never even watch them because the tapes are either lost or just a pain to convert to DVD. Oh wait, DVDs are dead too.

In contrast, the ads above the Lincoln Tunnel which face the Palmcorder relic, promote the photo prowess of the latest iPhone.

iPhone ads Lincoln Tunnel

These days, rather than just a handful of dads, we see moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends and grandparents recording almost anything and everything – all the time. Taping? Filming? Recording? Capturing? Whatever you call it, practically everyone is doing it. It’s in everyone’s hands. It’s easy. It’s ubiquitous.

Do these iPhone ads even recognize their ancestor across the helix?

The tagline for Panasonic used to be “Just slightly ahead of our time.” There’s nothing ‘slightly’ about innovation at Apple. But I can’t help but wonder how long it will be for today’s iPhone to look ancient in comparison to the next generation of technology (likely created by Apple). Then these ads above the tunnel will seem quaint.

Of course by then, the tunnel itself could seem quaint as we commute across the river in our hovercrafts. Or maybe we’ll just beam ourselves to work. Let me know when there’s an app for that.

– Rob Schnapp