The 1960s was a decade full of optimism. Thousands of Irish people returned home, following the mass emigration from the recession of the late 1950s. Employment figures increased and take-home pay was on the rise. The Rural Electrification Scheme had installed the electricity infrastructure through most of the country bringing more than 300,000 additional rural consumers into the system by 1967.
Although print advertising still had a significant role in advertising and radio was firmly established, there was a new medium of advertising in Ireland, the television. In 1961 the new technology that was to change Irish culture was launched with the establishment of Telefis Eireann and ESB began advertising on this new medium. Advertising messages on television relayed the virtues of instant hot water, electric heating and cooking were promoted as a necessity to modern life. To convince the housewife to part with her gas cooker or traditional fuel-burning range and ‘switch to electric cooking’, ESB emphasised the cleanliness, the modern, space age, stainless steel convenience of electric cooking and all for a mere 5 shillings for 6 people for 7 days.
Cookery demonstrations and competitions carried ESB’s sponsorship with one of our first forays into the National Ploughing Championships taking place in 1961. A film was also made by ESB called Liquid Asset, promoting the use of electric pumps to bring running water into thousands of rural homes – this was as recently as 1967. It was also the beginning of the big push for electric heating and all-electric homes.
Towards the end of the decade the style of advertising began to move away from the text-heavy commercials to full colour pictures with few words and the strapline was born.