The Clowns of Commerce

The Clowns of Commerce

The Clowns of Commerce

The Clowns of Commerce


"It is annoying and disturbing to discover, as we did the other day in talking to a group of college students and faculty members, that there are still lingering doubts in many people's minds about the basic values of advertising to society."

This discovery was made at the end of 1956 by an editorial writer for Advertising Age , a publication which stands in debt to America's advertising industry not alone for its revenue, but positively for its raison d'être. Such a first paragraph on the editorial page of such a newspaper was fraught with promise.

Were advertising's spokesmen about to answer, at last, the question whether the ends of consumption justify the means of deception?

Were they prepared to demonstrate how poor grammar, cheap sentiment and an awesome abuse of logic can, if the volume is turned up high enough, raise the nation's intellectual and aesthetic level?

Would they show that the values of Madison Avenue really have something in common with human values, despite all evidence?

In a word, no. The disturbed editorial writer took eight paragraphs to reassure his readers that they need not "feel the slightest sense of unease because distribution costs are going up in relation to total costs. What had happened to those "basic values"? Minor . . .

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