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Campaigns from 1950s and 1960s

Taking a plunge in the hallowed memories of the postwar advertising world, this issue is dedicated to notable and hopefully recognizable campaigns from the 1950s and 1960s. It is with pleasure that we reprint excerpts from Rosser Reeves writings, deferring to one of the master for commentary on what makes impactful, effective, and durable advertising.

Selected from Reality in Advertising (1961), the excerpts by Rosser Reeves highlight a singular mentality that yielded campaigns such as Listerine’s “End Halitosis”, or Lucky Strike’s “It’s Toasted”. Harping on the soundness of the Unique Selling Proposition, Reeves bemoans vacuous campaigns that feed into the industry’s obsession with originality or spectacle. The consumer, he states firmly, must be told – repeatedly and consistently – of true “differentials” that underwrite a product’s value.

Reeves’ advertising philosophy was but one strong voice in a plethora of claims and appeals. Drawing a picture of the postwar context, Astrid Van den Bossche explores Maidenform’s 1949-1969 marketing efforts in The Id Goes Shopping in Its Maidenform Bra: Navigating Gender Spheres in the Postwar “Dreams” Campaign. Contesting the claims Maidenform’s Dreams campaign was ultimately demeaning to women, Van den Bossche tracks how the campaign’s interaction with vacillating gender ideals.

Should the reader be in need for further reading, this issue concludes with Van den Bossche’s review of two books on the wider subject. HBO series Mad Men never being far from the imagination, Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style & the 1960s by editors Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert A. Rushing offers extensive commentary on the show’s artistic and historical merits. In the spirit of listening to those who lived and breathed advertising in this “golden age”, we end on advertising woman Jane Maas’ thoughts on the era in Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60s and Beyond.

Linda M. Scott


Linda M. Scott

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