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."
In the attached VANITY FAIR MAGAZINE article, James Montgomery Flagg (1877 – 1960) had a good laugh at the hand that fed him: the New York advertising establishment.
Better remembered in our own time as the creator of the iconic "I Want You for the U.S. Army" poster (1917), Flagg was a prolific artist and one of the highest paid magazine and advertising illustrators of his day. As the era of mass-media advertising developed, Flagg didn't just have a good seat on the fifty-yard line; he was a player on the field and he saw his work reproduced in all sorts of unlikely venues. In this article, he parodied the language of the advertising copy writer.
"CHEW WIGGLEJAW GUM! Chew it in your own ear! Chew it for dessert! It stimulates conversation. It prevents cholera, bubonic plague, and berri-berri..."
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.
HUH? "Sex in advertising"? Who Knew?
Read what those gigolos of rented space were up to in 1958...
During the early Fifties the advertising team at the Hartog Shirt Company relied upon the basest aspect of male psychology to advertise their shirts; they chose a novel approach - take a look.