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The New Icons?

The New Icons?: The Art of Television Advertising

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 270
  • Book Info
    The New Icons?
    Book Description:

    Tracing commercials from the late 1940s, when they made their first appearance, to the early 1990s, Rutherford focuses on the shape and character of actual commercials as well as on what we do with them.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8186-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Photographs
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Ads as Art
    (pp. 3-9)

    Barcelona,May 1988:I was lying on the bed in my hotel room watching local television, much of which struck me as bland by comparison with all the flash and glitz of the North American product. Then on came a commercial for Panrico, a brand of sliced white bread, the name of which translates roughly as ʹtasty bread.ʹ What seemed so startling was just how familiar were the images, the announcerʹs enthusiasm, the air of frenzy. Though my understanding of Spanish was rudimentary, it was easy to decipher the meaning of this commercial: buy convenience, buy taste, buy modernity. The ad...

  6. 1 The First Clios (1948–58)
    (pp. 10-36)

    Black and white pictures. A homely, fake-wood stage setting. Square-dance music. A loud caller telling the couples to ʹcircleʹ ʹallemand,ʹ and ʹpromenade.ʹ Is this a scene from an old-time country music show in the golden age of vaudeo ? No, the couples are actually sixteen dancing cigarettes, photographed using the stop-motion technique. They swing through the steps of the square dance in neat formation, under the command of another cigarette, the caller, standing on a box of Lucky Strikes. Aired in 1948,Barn Dance(D4801) was a bouncy little ad for one of the leading brands of cigarettes of the...

  7. 2 Studies in American Excellence
    (pp. 37-58)

    Lifestyle advertising came into full bloom on TV during the 1960s. Three of the best examples of this genre had their origins in that decade: the campaigns for Marlboro cigarettes, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi-Cola. All promoted badge goods, meaning these brands said something about their users. In a 1984 interview on the ʹPepsi Generationʹ campaign, the veteran ad-maker Tom Dillon, past president of BBDO (1964–77), explained how people make judgments about who they are, and who others are, based on the cigarette smoked or the soft drink enjoyed. Twenty years earlier, his agency had argued that very point to Pepsi-Cola...

  8. 3 Art in the Service of Commerce
    (pp. 59-103)

    That quotation graced a congratulatory ad placed by CHCH Production Facilities (an offshoot of a private Hamilton TV station) in the catalogue of the 1988 winners of Canadaʹs Bessies. I say ʹascribedʹ to Joseph Conrad, since someone (an anonymous copywriter?) had actually dropped one word, the adjective ʹmenʹsʹ before ʹimagination,ʹ presumably to make the language gender-neutral. The original had appeared in ConradʹsSome Reminiscences(1912), later reissued asA Personal Record, from whence it made its way into at least one thesaurus of quotations.

    There are a number of ways to interpret so cryptic a claim. Conrad was actually explaining...

  9. A Portfolio of Images
    (pp. None)
  10. 4 Reading the Bessies
    (pp. 104-135)

    One of the old conceits of the ad-makers is that their work reflects the hopes, concerns, styles, habits, and rituals of daily life. Thereʹs merit to such claims: you can ransack the Bessies to find evidence of how hairstyles or skirt lengths have changed, the colloquial expressions of a decade ago, or what appliances were in the kitchen of the early 1970s. You can find evidence of how mores have changed as well. The 1977 Gold BessieYouʹre Looking Goodfor General Motors of Canada features a brief scene where a man, in public, pats the bum of the woman...

  11. 5 The Cannes Lions, Etc. (1984–92)
    (pp. 136-168)

    By 1990 TV advertising expenditures worldwide had reached around $65 billion U.S., according to Les BrownʹsEncyclopedia of Television. Although this statistic doesnʹt count cinema advertising, never mind the cost of actually making the ads, it can serve as a rough guide to the sway of the commercial. Whatʹs clear is that television advertising, as distinct from advertising in general, is not yet a truly global phenomenon. The bulk of the $65 billion was spent in North America (47 per cent), what was then noncommunist Europe (25 per cent), and the capitalist states of the Asia/Pacific region (23 per cent)....

  12. 6 The Captivated Viewer and Other Tales
    (pp. 169-197)

    Commentators are forever trying to work up a sense of wonder and sometimes horror at the sheer amount of time we spend with television commercials. The listing of great numbers is usually prologue to an argument about the awesome power of commercials, the way advertising has taken over the culture, or the increasing discontent of the consumer. We are told by NBCʹs ʹSex, Buys & Advertisingʹ that the ʹaverage Americanʹ (whoever that is) is ʹbombardedʹ by 1,000 commercials a week, and by writer Martin Mayer that altogether the American networks air over 6,000 commercials a week. InThe Independent(6 March...

  13. Afterword: Travels in Europe (October 1992)
    (pp. 198-206)

    Setting: a modern city, somewhere in the world. Protagonists: the mighty Godzilla and a huge basketball player. Story: Godzilla goes one-on-one with the black star who breaks through the lizardʹs defence and drops the ball in the basket. Then they walk off together down the street, while the victor asks Godzilla if he has ever thought about the type of shoes he wears. The commercial neatly mixes the imagery of the Japanese horror movie and American basketball: we are treated to an amusing juxtaposition of two mythic figures, locked in a contest of wits and strength. The images had been...

  14. Appendix: How to View Commercials
    (pp. 207-216)
  15. Listing of Commercials
    (pp. 217-238)
  16. Sources
    (pp. 239-252)
  17. Index
    (pp. 253-270)