We are pleased to have four original works to introduce in this quarter’s issue of Advertising & Society Review.
The first, “Rare Birds: Why So Few Women Become Ad Agency Creative Directors” by Karen Mallia, is an investigation of the experience of women in the creative roles of advertising agencies. Much speculation has grown up around the low representation of women in this area of industry and also what effects the under-representation of females has on a body of messages so often aimed at women and girls. Karen’s extensive work stands to shed some light on this nagging questions.
The second article, Jacqueline Dickenson’s, “’Stuff History’: The Past as a Resource in the Production of Advertising Material,” takes a famous Australian soccer campaign as the point of departure for asking questions about the way that advertising creatives reconstruct and characterize history for viewers. Professor Dickenson interviewed Australian creatives about their knowledge of and interest in history, as well as how they felt history got transformed through the medium of advertising. The result is a thoughtful piece about the popular telling of our past stories.
The third article, “The Mother’s Gaze and the Model Child: Reading Print Ads for Designer Children’s Clothing” by Chris Boulton, looks at the potentally different effects of chidlrens luxury ads on different audiences. Chris interviewed both well-to-do women as the ostensible target readers for high-end children’s wear ads as well as poor mothers who looked at the same ad. The reader-response study that comes out is surprisingly, amusing, and reassuring in many ways about the resiliency of the advertising reader.
The last article, Stephan Gennaro’s “J. Walter Thompson and the Creation of the Modern Advertising Agency,” is a broad theoretical piece about the way advertising rose up in the post war period to become a meaning-making system of its own. The scope and gravity of this piece, like most articles of this sort, may serve to give us pause about the larger forces served by consumer culture. Particularly given the limited participation of certain groups, such as women, and the limited accuracy of representation, such as of history, we can see the negative shadows over what may otherwise seem a light and harmless form. There is some comfort, as always, in the intransigence of everyday readers, such as of luxury childrenswear ads, but the overall point remains a sobering one.
Linda M. Scott
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