Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865-1920

By James D. Norris | Go to book overview

5
TRADEMARKS AND BRAND NAMES--SELLING THE IMAGE

Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently pursued, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic. Promise, large promise, is the soul of advertisement.

--Dr. Samuel Johnson, January 20, 1759,
in the Idler as quoted in the Encyclopedia Americana ( 1967) I:161

One of the most striking transformations in the American economy during the twentieth century has been the decline of the relative share of employment in production and the growth in service sector employment. At the same time, distribution seems to have increased or at least maintained its relative share in the economy during most of this century. In a major study of the role of distribution in the American economy, Harold Barger concluded that while the number of persons engaged in the commodity-producing industries more than doubled in the eighty years following 1870, the number engaged in the distribution of these commodities increased twelvefold. As Figure 5.1 illustrates, distribution's share of the total labor force increased from 6 per cent to nearly 10 per cent in the period 1870 to 1920; at the same time, the share involved in commodity production fell from 70 per cent to 57 per cent.1 In addition, output per man-hour in commodity production rose more than twice as fast as in distribution, meaning that all other things being equal, the costs of production declined more than twice as fast or increased less than half as fast as the costs of distribution.

Actually, Barger suggested that while the share of the retail sales dollar consumed by distribution costs between World War I and 1950 remained "with remarkable regularity" around 37 percent, there had nevertheless been a slow but definite increase in distribution's share of the retail costs

-95-

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Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865-1920
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Figures xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - The American Economy in Transition 1
  • 2 - The Men, the Media, and the Message, 1865-1900 27
  • 3 - Any Fool Can Make Soap 47
  • 4 - Leisure Time for the Ladies: Bicycles, Cameras, Appliances, and Other Luxuries 71
  • 5 - Trademarks and Brand Names--Selling the Image 95
  • 6 - I'D Walk a Mile for a Camel 127
  • 7 - Advertising Comes of Age 143
  • Notes 171
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 201
  • About the Author *
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