Advertising in America: The First 200 Years

Charles Goodrum, Author, Helen Dalrymple, With ABRAMS $60 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8109-1187-1
Goodrum ( Treasures of the Library of Congress ) and Dalrymple, Library of Congress staff member, here announce that they have set out to chart--but not necessarily to debunk--the phenomenon that for 200 years has amused, shamed and seduced us into buying products we may or may not need. Their well-organized, if simplistic, book is an encyclopedia of the print advertising image, with a skeletal timeline delineating influences, styles and techniques, later fleshed out with analyses of why the advertising industry has flourished. The availability of inexpensive paper and the advent of trademarks seem to have served as major catalysts, spawning ad agencies, with their artists and copywriters, and eventually today's corps of market-research mavens. The authors tell of the invention of Ivory soap and the disposable razor blade, the hard-sell, the sex-sell and so on. But then our guides exit much as they entered, remarking on the oddity of their subject: no one is certain of any direct cause-and-effect relation linking ads and sales; ironically, the best ads often do the worst job of selling. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
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