2.4. Advertisements




Susmita Das, PhD in Communications and Media, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alum, and independent researcher

I graduated with a PhD this August. My dissertation project looked at the operations and business activities of American and British advertising agencies in the state-controlled Indian media sector in the 1960s. I’ve taught courses on Advertising and Society, Public Relations, and Consumer Insight at UIUC. Before grad school, I worked at a few ad agencies dabbling as copywriter, client executive, and account planner. 

Cynthia B. Meyers, Professor Emerita, College of Mount Saint Vincent, New York City

I research the history of ad agencies in broadcasting, especially their production of branded content (sponsored programs). My monograph, A Word from Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio (Fordham, 2014), won the 2016 Library of American Broadcasting Foundation Historian Award. I am currently working on the sequel, tentatively titled Sell-evision: Madison Avenue & Television in the 1950s-60s. My articles about ad agencies, advertisers, broadcasting, news, and blacklisting have  appeared in Journal of American History, Business History Review, American Journalism (winner of best article award), and Cinema Journal, among others, as well as in book collections and digital-only publications. I tweet as @annehummert, the name of a 1930-40s radio soap opera producer from the agency Blackett-Sample-Hummert, and post old ads at https://wordfromoursponsor.tumblr.com

The chair of this session is: Paula de la Cruz-Fernández

Description of workshop 

Can knowledge of advertising, advertisements, and advertising industries history help business historians? Advertisements can be artifacts that can help us interpret the history of companies, industries, places, and societies. Learning about the advertising industries, domestic and international, can help us understand various industries and how they evolved, not to mention how media industries functioned as ad revenue undergirds most of them. Understanding advertising strategies and how they change over time can help us analyze the public face of companies and how the people in companies, ad agencies, and industries understood their markets in different eras, places, and circumstances. 

Advertisements, like most historical records, are media texts that can be “read.” In this workshop we will read some ads. We hope to give a basic overview of the commonly used techniques and strategies used in creating an ad and try to understand it the way that advertising professionals and experts conceived it. This knowledge will help in interpreting the advertiser’s business and industrial context, not only the social meanings it conveys to its audience. We promise these will illuminate new avenues to explore in your business history project.

For more information or if you wish to participate in this workshop, please check this document.