It was said to be the lowest form of advertising - when ad copy on TV or radio productions was disguised as theatrical content. It was widespread.
The Selling of the President is about the role of television in the Republican efforts to elect Richard Nixon president in the 1968 election. Written over forty years ago by Joe McGinnis, the book was an instant classic as it addressed the matter of "packaging a candidate" for a political contest in the same manner products are promoted for the marketplace:
"McGinnis concludes that 'On television, it matters less that [the candidate] does not have ideas. His personality is what the viewers want to share...'"
•• Watch One of the 1968 Nixon Campaign Ads ••
If advertising is defined as the craft of convincing people they want something that they actually don't care for, then World War II proved to have been the perfect challenge to the ad men of the 1940s. The wordsmith who penned this article regarding home front advertising chortled loudly when he saw the manner in which the bloodiest brawl in history was being marketed to the American consumers.
"Advertising has gone to war... and the advertising profession not only knows what we are fighting for; it knows down to the last uplift bra, what we want when we come home...It is the copywriters of advertising who nurse the carefully guarded secret that this war is, in reality, a luxury cruise."
Articles about the importance of fashion models in 1940s advertising can be read here.
This column praises those brainiacs of Madison Ave who obsess over single syllable words (and sounds) in an effort to propel their client's product to the tip-top of the profit-pantheon.
"The right name can zoom a product into a commercial success. The wrong one can wreck its sales and waste the advertising dollars spent promoting it... If one day you hear of a product called 'Heck' or 'Gosh', don't be surprised. Slang is more popular than the king's English in product naming. Again, it's because you use it more naturally. Newest proof of this came after the phrase 'poof - there goes perspiration' (a TV commercial for Stopette spray deodorant) made 'poof' a new American slang word."
This article is composed of 15 thumbnail biographies that serve to profile the most victorious men (and one woman) to have ever plied their craft in the world of American advertising during the Twenties and early Thirties. The fact that many of the clients listed herein are still around today will indicate how thoroughly these innovators had succeeded in making their names "household words". Some of the the brainiacs profiled are Stanley Resor of J. Walter Thompson, Raymond Rubicam of Young & Rubicam, Gerard Lambert of Lambert & Feasley, Bruce Barton of BBDO and copywriter Lillian Eichler.
After the Wall Street Crash of 1929 it was generally recognized by the red-meat-eaters on Madison Avenue that the rules of the ad game had been re-written. There were far fewer dollars around than there were during the good ol' Twenties, and what little cash remained seldom changed addresses with the same devil-may-care sense of abandon that it used to. Yet as bleak as the commercial landscape was in 1932, those hardy corner-office boys, those executives with the gray flannel ulcers remembered that they were in the optimism business and if there was a way to turn it around, they would find it.