Fun, Sun and Summer Flings
Summer in the northern hemisphere is drawing to a close and with it, peak holiday season. âBack to Schoolâ advertisements and darker evenings remind us that the summer holiday is over, but it wonât be long until travel agents are persuading us to book next yearâs dream getaway. To cheer myself up in the meantime Iâve been browsing holiday and tourism paraphernalia from the 1950s and 60s and dreaming of vacationing in a more glamorous age. These can be found in the American Consumer Culture 1935-1965 resource in the papers of Ernest Dichter, the âfather of motivational researchâ.
Fun, sun, and BEA, 1960s, Â© The Advertising Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission
Dichterâs team conducted âmotivational research studiesâ for a huge number of industries from automobiles and technology to clothing, beauty and motion pictures. The innovative studies were designed to get under the skin of what your customer really thinks and feels and Dichter channeled these insights into more persuasive advertising. I was intrigued to come across one market research report from 1958, exploring what appeals most to British tourists about holidaying abroad and how British European Airways could attract more customers through their package holiday brochures.
Brochures and holiday travel/A report on a motivational research study, Jun 1958, Â© Hagley Museum and Library.Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Dichter found one of the biggest motivations for an overseas vacation was being able to let your hair down and have a bit more fun on the continent than at home. He reported that this sentiment was particularly strong in young women, noting that 45.7% of one group of female respondents expressed âfreedom from inhibitionsâ as one of the most desirable features of a holiday abroad.
âI think it is nice to have a fling in every sense, then when you come back to England you can a least appreciate the fact that you have been able to let your hair down and enjoy yourselfâŠâ
âI eat more and let my hair down at dances. Everybody abroad seems to have a good time... Sometimes I have tried to flirt with the local boys, just for a bit of fun, but at home I have a boyfriend and donât go in for flirting.â
There has been much talk in the media about the behaviour of Brits abroad, particularly in party resorts such as Ibiza and Magaluf where unfortunately young tourists have a rather bad reputation. British police have even been sent out to patrol the sunny Spanish streets and help remind the young folk that just because they are on holiday, basic rules of decency still apply! The tourists that descend on these European islands also seem to be looking for somewhere to let their hair down, get away from normal life and relax their inhibitions, just like the young people interviewed by Dichterâs team 50 years ago.
The report concludes by recommending that BEA emphasise the following benefits of a continental package holiday in their next brochure, being the most important factors to holiday-makers when planning vacations;
- Guaranteed sunshine and exotic food you wonât find at home
- Letting your hair down, loosening inhibitions and relaxing, the âcontinental way'
- Holiday-envy! Avoiding the jealousy caused by friends and co-workers bragging about their vacations and ensuring you have your own envy-inducing stories and photos to share next summer
I empathise with the last point in particular, and will be avoiding the Facebook and Instagram accounts of anyone going on fabulous holidays for the next few months whilst the rest of us wrap up for autumn.
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