web exhibit: The advertising business

The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian has launched a new web exhibit on « The Advertising Business. »

According to the introduction, the advertising business shaped the relationship between producers and consumers. Starting with newspapers, advertising financed media in the U.S., ensuring that it all became commercialized. Advertisers defined the benefits of consumption for Americans, linking products to personal improvement, convenience, and national progress. Admen and a few adwomen developed selling expertise that manufacturers and retailers came to rely on and that made consumption a central part of American life.

The well-illustrated exhibit is divided into five chronological segments, from the 1750s to the present day. Topics addressed include patent medicines, racial and gender barriers and stereotypes, the rise of branding, the uses of direct mail, and critiques of advertising.


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