Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865-1920

By James D. Norris | Go to book overview

7
ADVERTISING COMES OF AGE

SOPO SAVES SCRUBBING--NUTRAX FOR NERVES--CRUNCH- LETS ARE CRISPER--NOURISH NERVES WITH NUTRAX--FAR- LEY'S FOOTWEAR TAKES YOU FURTHER. . . . The presses, thundering and growling, ground out the same appeals by the million: ASK YOUR GROCER--ASK YOUR DOCTOR--ASK THE MAN WHO'S TRIED IT--MOTHER'S! GIVE IT TO YOUR CHILDREN--HOUSE- WIVES! . . . HUSBANDS! . . . WOMEN! . . . Whatever you're doing, stop it and do something else! Whatever you're buying, pause and buy something different! Be hectored into health and prosperity! Never let up! Never go to sleep! Never be satisfied! If once you're satisfied, all our wheels will run down. Keep going--and if you can't, Try Nutrax for Nerves!

Lord Peter Wimsey went home and slept.

-- Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise, 88

Frank Presbrey once predicted that advertising "practitioners" of the 1980s would regard the entire history of advertising up to the automobile as unimportant. It was "The automobile [which] provided the big opportunity," he argued, for advertising to reveal itself as a force in American society, "A force comparable to steam, electricity and--the automobile." Waxing eloquent, Presbrey concluded that:

Successful advertising of the motor car set at rest all doubts as to the ability of the average American to acquire an article of luxury when the pleasure of possession is convincingly pictured to him, and opened the way for a class of advertising that has in a quarter of a century revolutionized American living habits and given us the highest standard of living any people ever enjoyed. Besides the automobile other mass selling tasks were obviously capable of accomplishment. A long line of new luxuries and comforts that in the nineteenth century were not for the ordinary

-143-

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