It seems that there may be nothing more quintessentially American than the selling of products and services through advertisementùa process that began around the turn of the 20th century and continues evolving today. Advertisers and brand marketers seem to have used every possible method under the sun to get their products into the hands of American consumers, spending billions of dollars every year on advertising and branding. They have blurred the lines of ethics in the media by unethically promoting their brands, and formed a world in which the democratic citizen must not only be well informed and educated about their purchases, but must also be well informed and educated about their lifestylesùthe very manner in which they live their lives.
In the early 1900’s, it seems advertising stayed at a relatively honest and simple level. Vintage advertising is barely a shadow of what the industry has become. Marketing was essentially product-centered, thus focusing on the appeal of the actual product that was being sold. A typical vintage advertisement might list the product, why the consumer should buy it, and the price that a consumer should expect to pay for it.
As consumerism evolved however, so did advertising, and by the 1930s, as the products were defining the individuals who used them, so the advertising became more focused on the individual consumer. This gave rise to the notion of advertising by testimonyùindividuals recounting stories of how the product had worked for them. Ads became more focused on what the product could do for the consumer, rather than a general account on what it was. Consequentially, advertising had to evolve further to accommodate the social groups and images that associated themselves with products. By the 1950s, advertising, though still consumer-driven, became more focused on ideas of the intangible image that products created, rather than what