The Poor Influence of Advertising during the
1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s
April 30th, 2012
Most of us don’t realize how often we really are influenced by advertising or marketing. We wake up, turn the television on, and begin our day. But how would life be if we didn’t have constant commercials or ads blaring at us day in and day out? What if we took it all away from the beginning? Advertising, as a means of production, is used to “announce or praise in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use it.” However, what is it really used for? We have always been a dignified nation, establishing ourselves as one of the top leaders. But as we grew in strength, our image rapidly changed. The United States has always been a desired place by many; but what made that so? Was it because our Presidents and government were the best? Or was it the land that glorified the nations look? No matter when, the United State has done it’s part to make the nation look great. But why has our image always been so important? I believe it fair to say that advertising is the main culprit. While its intention to create an immediate desired reaction on the consumer was qualified at the beginning, it has evolved into identifying the underlying differences of should and should not. The ethics have been stretched and pulled, just so advertisers could target people properly, by creating an image of “lesser than” unless their product was consumed. The nation as a whole has always remained strong, however individual images have been altered. Despite the glorifying and prosperous look of the nation during the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s, advertising poorly influenced the nation because it created very materialistic lifestyles, it forced people to buy what they did not need, and it lured people into having false hopes.
Have you ever taken the time to ponder how advertising came to be? Why we have it, why we need it? There is a fine line and a huge discrepancy between what is right and wrong with advertising. Particularly disturbing forms of early American advertisements were notices of sales or appeals for the capture of escaped slaves. Despite the ongoing “market revolution,” early and mid nineteenth century advertisements rarely demonstrate striking changes in advertising appeals. During the twenties advertising’s niche came to be with the use of radios (approximately 1880-1900.) The appeal of the spoken word attracted more audiences, which forced advertisers and publishers to put more effort in improving its image to regain profits. “Television, capable of wireless transmission of moving pictures, was first publically demonstrated in 1936, combining sight and sound to rival radio.” 1 President Calvin Coolidge pronounced an encouragement on the business of advertising in a 1926 speech: “Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade. It is a great power that has been in trusted to your keeping which charges you with the high responsibility of inspiring and ennobling the commercial world. It is all part of the greater work of regeneration and redemption of mankind.” Advertisements sought to adjust Americans to modern life; a life lived in a consumer society. While advertising generated modern excitement about its social and ethical implications, it nevertheless opened the door to a new centrality during the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. Many advertisers made their profits by changing the roles of individuals in society by substituting daily activities with materialistic situations. People consistently changed their daily routine as the transformation in society rapidly continues. “1920’s overly distorted people’s daily activities during this era of unprecedented consumerism.” (The 1920’s) Women began to look at the twenties as an era to break out and become more independent. Their lives outside of the home now seemed to matter more. However, what...
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