But the public also braced themselves as other world events unfolded.
The Vietnam War intensified. Work began on the Berlin Wall, heralding a stand-off between East and West that almost erupted into nuclear war during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
The assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963 ended his dreams of an end to racial violence - a vision that was firmly quashed with the murder of Martin Luther King in 1968. Race was also a hot issue in Britain, as immigration steadily accelerated throughout the 60s, culminating in Enoch Powell's infamous 'rivers of blood' speech in 1968.
As Bob Dylan sang The Times, They Are A-Changin' in 1965, the UK found itself in the first true decade of consumerism. This is when the baby-boomers really kicked the consumer society into gear, spending like lottery winners and trying everything on offer - lots of it illegal. For the first time, there were more young people than old and, representing a powerful economic and cultural force, they swept everything else aside.
New social landscape
Drugs, hippy anti-establishmentarianism and the sexual revolution - fuelled by the uptake of the Pill - were such a powerful social force, especially in the late 60s, that brands found themselves communicating in a radically different climate to the 50s, when men were men and women were housewives.
Not surprisingly, the 60s was a time when some of the most iconic British style brands came to life, putting the UK, and specifically London, on the map as the world capital of fashion.
Mary Quant designed the mini-skirt in 1965 and influential British fashion brands, such as Dr Marten's and Ben Sherman, came to the fore. Laura Ashley, having started business in the 50s, began expanding and Terence Conran responded to the growing trend toward household chic by launching Habitat in 1964. At the time, Conran's functional, ultra-modern designs had a profound influence on UK and international design.
The release of Dr No in 1962 not only gave prominence to another Great British brand, James Bond, but the series also provided a shop window for British products such as the Aston Martin DB5, which featured in Goldfinger in 1964. Bond was also the perfect model for British fashions such as Saville Row tailoring and Fred Perry shirts.
Britain was matching its modern image with major technological advances.
Concorde took its first test flight in 1969, while British Petroleum discovered gas under the North Sea in 1965. Wilson's vision of a technological revolution was taking shape.
This was also a golden era for British cars. The E-Type Jaguar was the car for the stars to be seen in, while the more accessible Mini enjoyed an equal cult status. The Mini as a symbol of British style and cheekiness was encapsulated in its starring role in the 1969 film The Italian Job - possibly the most effective piece of product placement ever.
Other British marques, such as Rover and Triumph, were at their peak in the 60s. But despite growing car ownership, car-makers made little use of TV advertising until the 70s.
Television's burgeoning audience in the 60s saw ads for food, detergent and toiletry brands, which dominated advertising expenditure.
Oxo, Camay soap, Watney's Red Barrell, Fairy Liquid, Persil, Whiskas, Chum and Schweppes were among the brands spending most heavily on the new ad medium of TV.
In 1956, TV advertising spend was just over £10m, but in 1966, it had reached £86m. Food and household goods were the highest-spending sectors, with Unilever leading the way. In 1970, Unilever's total adspend was £16.7m - a massive amount for the time - which eclipsed the £7m spent by the second-largest advertiser, Cadbury-Schweppes.
As the use of TV advertising increased, the campaigns became more sophisticated and paid more attention to building a distinctive character for a brand.
Where the 50s had been about catchy jingles and slogans, the 60s saw the first widespread attempts at brand-building through advertising.
The notion of a campaign where a consistent brand idea is sustained through many different executions, came to fruition in the 60s and early 70s.
We saw the first sexy exploits of the Cadbury Flake girl in 1960, the daredevil antics of the Milk Tray Man from 1968 and the first scampering of the Andrex puppy, created by J Walter Thompson, in 1972. The famous campaign for Fry's Turkish Delight, with its images of girls being transported into Arabian night delight, also began in the 60s.
One of the most famous of all campaigns that started life in the mid-60s was for Hamlet, accompanied by the immortal 'Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet' tagline. The classic Collet Dickenson Pearce cigar commercials, which have spawned more than 100 executions, came to the fore in the mid-60s thanks to the 1965 ban on TV cigarette ads. Up to then, cigarettes had accounted for around one-third of all TV ad revenue, but the ban did not extend to pipe tobacco or cigars.
The Hamlet campaign is not only significant for creating a much-loved British brand, but also for signalling the start of a distinctive style of British advertising, which would find its fullest expression in the 70s. With CDP leading the way, British ad agencies in the late-60s began producing work that did not ape the hard-sell style of the US, but fed off the humour and quirkiness of British life.
Advertising in the 60s also became more image-led, with a new emphasis on attention-grabbing pictures and simple executions based on a powerful idea. Cramer Saatchi's 1969 'Pregnant Man' ad for the Family Planning Association, is a classic example.
Although at the time many thought it was in bad taste, the image is a good example of how British advertising in the 60s and early 70s was beginning to follow the 'creative revolution' coming from the US.
US creative Bill Bernbach was the leader, creating startlingly simple press ads for the VW Beetle in the 60s. Bernbach's London agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, repeated the success of VW's US campaigns for the Beetle with an ad featuring bug-eyed Marty Feldman and no sign of the car. Exploiting the perceived ugliness of the car, the copy said: 'If he can make it, so can Volkswagen'.
Another significant milestone for British marketing and brands was the arrival of colour TV in 1969. Now advertisers had the chance to make an impact on their audience in a more evocative way. Creative boundaries were stretched and advertising became a more exciting visual medium.
Although only 4% of homes had colour TV by 1971, advertisers were quick to make the leap, with colour commercials comprising 85% of all ads broadcast in that year. The advent of colour significantly increased the cost of marketing, with the production costs of commercials rocketing by 75% between 1969 and 1970.
The first colour TV ad in the UK was for a brand that had invested in British TV advertising from its earliest days - Birds Eye. The ad, for Birds Eye Peas, was broadcast on ATV in the Midlands.
The 60s was also an important time for media, with the launch of some of the most influential titles in the UK. The Sunday Times launched its colour supplement in 1966 (heralding another colour boom for advertisers) and, in 1964, the Daily Herald changed its name to The Sun.
The paper, owned by the International Publishing Corporation, was aimed at the affluent young along with the young graduates emerging from Britain's new red-brick universities. But it got off to a bad start, and by 1969 was achieving under half its target circulation of two million.
Rise of The Sun
At that point, Australian entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch bought the paper and astonished Fleet Street by adding one million to the circulation in his first year. By 1973, circulation had reached four million, spurred by the controversial addition of the page-three girl in 1970.
The BBC was also innovating and extending the reach of its brand, launching Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 as brands in 1967. The Guardian, in September 1967, reflected how the new youth-oriented station, Radio 1, had its work cut out if it was to satisfy the drug-taking, free-loving, fast-living youth of 60s Britain.
As the country headed into the 70s, the increasing sophistication and scope of the media, the skill of marketers and savvy of consumers all augured well for the continuing strength of British brands.
But when the heady days of the 60s gave way to the dark economic gloom of the 70s, such optimism looked misplaced. All the more remarkable then, that the decade to come saw the growth of some of the best-known of all British brands, supported by unforgettable marketing.
TOP TEN BEST-SELLING CARS OF 1969
1 Austin 1100/1300
2 Ford Cortina
3 Ford Escort
4 Vauxhall Viva
5 Austin Mini
6 Hillman Minx
7 Ford Capri
8 Austin 1800
9 Vauxhall Victor
10 Triumph Herald
WHAT UK CONSUMERS BOUGHT 1962-1972
1960s basket of goods
- Infant's matinee jacket
- Sliced bread
- Fish fingers
- Electric cookers
- Paper hankies
- Motor scooters
- Restaurant meals
1970s basket of goods
- Cassette recorders
- Electric hair dryers
- Record players
- Bingo fees
- Aluminium foil
- Home-perm kits
- Mortgage interest payments
Source: Office of National Statistics
TIMELINE - British Brands 1962-1972 1962: BBC2 begins broadcasting, the Advertising Standards Authority holds its inaugural meeting and Rowntree launches After Eight mints.
1963: Rover unveils the sharp-nosed, radically designed P6. JCB launches its legendary 3C backhoe digger.
1964: Habitat opens its doors, The Sun newspaper launches and Flora margarine hits the shelves.
1965: Mary Quant unveils the mini skirt, setting the fashion tone of the 60s. New brands this year include Cadbury's Crunch and Rowntree's Jelly Tots.
1966: The Times puts news on its front page for the first time and The Sunday Times launches the UK's first colour supplement.
1967: BBC launches colour TV, as well as Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 4. Barclays bank opens the first cash machine. Young & Rubicam comes up with the slogan 'Beenz Meenz Heinz' and it sticks for 30 years.
1968: The Milk Tray Man makes his TV debut. The Ford Escort begins a motoring legend and Persil Automatic is launched to suit the latest front-loading washing machines.
1969: The first British colour TV commercial, for Birds Eye Peas, airs on ITV during an episode of Thunderbirds. Glaxo launches its famous asthma treatment, Ventolin, and the GPO is broken up, creating British Telecommunications. Rupert Murdoch buys The Sun.
1970: Bedroom poster art is made easier with the launch of Blue Tak and Cadbury scores a hit with Curly Wurly.
1971: Britain goes decimal. Weetabix launches Alpen breakfast cereal and the first Kwik-Fit Centre for car parts, repair and replacement opens in Edinburgh.
1972: The Andrex Puppy makes its advertising debut. Air carriers BEA and BOAC merge to form British Airways.
Brand TV spend
1 Radiant 1397
2 Ariel 1320
3 Weetabix 1221
4 Kellogg's Cornflakes 1144
5 Persil 1107
6 Daz 1091
7 Maxwell House 940
8 Electricity Council 875
9 Blue Band Margarine 862
10 Stork Margarine 844