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Creativity in Advertising

One aspect of advertising heritage left us from the Creative Revolution is the notion that advertising and the arts are rightly intertwined. This, of course, has been an idea that has been controversial in earlier periods, especially the 1950s, even though a casual look at advertisements in history shows a profound and constant interaction between commercial messaging and the art world.

When Bill Bernbach—and others allied with him—demonstrated, repeatedly, that an artistic approach to advertising could be even more effective than the insulting and infuriating material being advocated by Rosser Reeves, it should have put the issue to bed once and for all. Yet we still live with separate awards, for instance, for creativity and effectiveness, as if these are necessarily different things. And as if we don't do the whole society damage by putting out noisy, ugly, offensive advertising messages.

This issue investigated the interaction between the arts and advertising in several ways. First is a new insight into Bill Bernbach, written by Larry Samuel, the respected author of Freud on Madison Avenue. I thought I had read everything about Bernbach until I read this. Reviewers were very enthused about this new material and the insight it brings about the relationship between Bernbach's work, artistic influences, and the overall advertising discourse between the 1950s and 1960s.

Ioana Grancea has written an intelligent rejoinder to work on the "grotesque imagery" one often finds in fashion magazines, recently published by Edward McQuarrie and Barbara Phillips in the Journal of Consumer Research. Ms. Grancea is a newcomer, from Romania, and her insights are fresh, her argument well-crafted. She gives us a sudden shift in perspective on the way people likely read these very odd images.

Perhaps the most neglected aspect of the art/advertising nexus in the academic literature is dance. There is so much material on images, and somewhat less on the links to literature and to music. But almost nothing on dance. So, when I met Carla Walters and found out she was working on just that subject, I immediately invited a paper, which I am happy to publish in this issue.

Finally, we are continuing with our "Classic Campaigns" feature, this time carrying forward the Bernbach tradition with an essay about the early history of the Absolut Vodka campaign. The engagement of the arts that has become a hallmark of that campaign, as well as the "Bernbachian" slogan, "Absolut Something," seemed a fitting way to end this issue.

Linda M. Scott
Editor

Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

 

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