Ad Men, take 2

Originally written for COM 529: Research and Methodolgies in Digital Media

I’ve had another chance to watch Advertising the American Dream, the featurette on the Mad Men DVD. I think it’s interesting the way advertising has evolved and continues to evolve, with the new technology. So I’ve included here a partial and unofficial transcript from the featurette, which starts off talking about advertising in the past and the American dream, then moves on to talk about the ways in which advertising is different today than it was in the days of Mad Men.


Chris Wall, Creative director, Ogilvy & Mather

The whole notion of the American dream was really about moving from an industrial society to a leisure society. People went from kids working in factories and the depression, to post-war where you had lots of affluence in the middle class. So advertising in the fifties and sixties, really brought to this burgeoning middle class, the American dream was product. It wasn’t like everyone could go to philosophy school, it was, “I could have a stereo! I could have a color TV!”

Dr. Bernard McGrane, Department of Sociology, Chapman University

The way the American dream is presented is for us to purchase it. The American dream itself is already a commercial aspiration. It’s that which you ought to aspire to, you ought to desire, you want this dream. So the logic of advertising psychology is already present in the very form of the American dream.

Professor Albert Lieberman, Executive Director, EMT Program, NYU Stern School of Business

Part of what I would call the advertising environment is set up to make you believe that there’s always more. There’s always better. And if you can afford it, you should have it.

Dr. Bernard McGrane, Department of Sociology, Chapman University

On a fundamental level, advertising disconnects us  with reality. So that we value the dream. Aspire for the dream. We experience it as a role model. Not in a conscious way, but just because of its enormous presence in our lives. The first person that needs to buy advertising is the sponsor. Sponsors have to believe that they need to advertise their products or no one will buy it. That itself is the accomplishment of the advertising industry, to get all the other industries to believe that the advertising industry is necessary. And in that sense advertising advertises advertising.

… The most brilliant dimension of advertising is, for the most part, we who are tremendously affected by it, have no sense that we are affected by it. None of us actually stop and look and really think about, oh, there’s an ad, what is it appealing to, what do I think about it, what’s going on with it, and we’re exposed to roughly 3,000 ads a day.

 Arlene Manos, President, Advertising Women of New York

I think It’s been called the golden age of advertising agencies.  Ads were created inside that agency and put on a few outlets. Media is just so dispersed now. And so many ways to reach consumers that we’re just one of them. I’m in cable television and that’s just one of the ways.

Because of technology, people’s ability to identify, define and reach a specific target is so much greater than it ever was.

The internet sort of opened up a whole new space that was not existing there before . Pretty soon, commercials started appearing in that space.

It’s different for advertisers because…the only reason they could go and have three martini lunches was because it wasn’t that complicated. You can’t do that now. You have tens of thousands of options of how you run a campaign, from e-mail to viral videos to television spots or anything else. So it’s much more complex now.

John Bernbach, Presidnet & COO, Not Traditional Media

You find a social group that you belong to, I can find music that you’re interested in, I can find things that you’re already plugged into and insert myself into your life. But by the same token, those advances in technology have also created an incumbent problem,which is that I believe that work today has become almost entirely execution based, and not conceptually based.  I think people have become so enamored of the ways of producing things right now, all the new forms of media, that you sometimes forget, in order for that to be meaningful, you have to have an idea behind that which has to stem from the product and its advantages. And I think that’s one of the things the business has forgotten today.

What’s happened is that consumers are much more savvy these days, we have many more impressions of advertising that surround us and so people become jaded. There’s that word that for a while used to be evil, called Tivo, that allows you to fast forward and eliminate advertising from your television.

Advertising is becoming an anonymous business. You don’t really know the names of people that are creating advertising now. Agencies don’t even have agency names anymore.

The creative revolution is over.

Dr. Bernard McGrane, Department of Sociology, Chapman University

If all advertising ceased tomorrow, what would happen to  our world, to our economy? Everyone would say absolutely…you couldn’t…you can’t do that! It would collapse.  And that is a fantastic advertisement.


About suitejen

Writer. Video Editor. Mama.
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