Sunday, February 27, 2011

Melancholy, Merit, and Merchandise

Shows such as The Biggest Loser, Supernanny, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition aren't new to American television. In the 1950s, when television was popping up in more Americans' homes, shows like Queen for a Day and Strike It Rich were featured on all major news networks. The reality shows of today and shows of the '50s both have the same type theme, to help contestants get out of whatever difficult situation they may be in. The 1950s shows were meant to help those who needed assistance, mostly financial.

This clip is from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The crew meets the family they will be helping.

These types of shows used emotional stories to relate to the viewer. After WWII, America decided it was time to go back to family values and traditions. The family was the central part of American life. With such stories, like the ones used in Queen for a Day, the viewers could relate one way or another. Even if viewers were never in that situation, they could hear a tragic story and want to go out and buy a merchandise to prevent themselves from getting into that same predicament. In 1964, George Katona named America a “mass consumption society,” meaning the economy depended on the purchases of goods.

This clip is from the 1950s TV show Queen for a Day. The contestant is telling the audience about her difficult situation for her and her family.

The article goes on to describe how many of these shows were aired during the day, when most housewives watched TV. Women who didn’t work and stayed at home were the main target for these types of show. Many appliances and home products were used to appeal to these women.

With the introduction of social programs, such as Medicare and welfare benefits, popular shows that helped out contestants quickly diminished. Since many programs were put into place to help struggling Americans, it seemed as if these types of television shows were becoming less and less popular with viewers.


1. Why do you think shows like Supernanny and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition emerged on the television scene in the mid 2000s?

2. How do you think products and prizes displayed in these types of shows have changed? How is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition different from Queen for a Day in how they mention name brand products?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Product Placement on Modern Family

In an episode of Modern Family Phil is having a birthday and all he wants is an ipad. The entire episode is all about Phil's love of the ipad and his wife's struggle to get him one. This is what happens when he finally gets his ipad.

Supplemental Screening: Design for Dreaming

Check out this choreographed celebration of cars and kitchens made for the 1956 "Motorama". Available at

Home Improvement: Tool Time Part 3

I Used this because on "Tool Time" they are always advertising the products made by the shows sponsor. Even though it isn't a true television show, it does advertise great examples of product integration and consumer education. If you have ever seen the audience of the show "Tool Time", it is typically all men, so a big sales push on the show is to appeal to the "Man-ly" side of them to buy this equipment that is made for "Real Men"

Oprah choosing her "Favorite Things"

Here we see Oprah behind the scenes as she chooses her "Favorite Things" to talk about on the Oprah Winfrey show. For those unfamiliar with the ways of Queen Oprah, the Favorite Things show is awesome because the audience members get ridiculous amounts of free stuff (such as cars) and pretty much every product she features becomes insanely popular and sells out everywhere immediately. This has been christened the "Oprah effect."

Before my mom and I sold our lingerie store, we carried La Perla sweat pants. These were $100 sweats. Women would come in all the time and say "Ooh I saw this on Oprah's Favorite Things!" Thank you Oprah for compelling women to buy fantastically comfortable yet pricey sweats.


Product Placement in Soap Opera

Here is an example of product placement that is found on television. It appeared in an episode of "Days of Our Lives" and was not only used, but was zoomed in on at multiple points throughout this part of the episode. This is just a minor example of what today's product placement is like in society nowadays.

Ellen Promotion (Start-1:20)

This is a clip of Ellen promoting a product on how to properly fold a t-shirt during her talk show. The product is being displayed as a means of added value to organization.

The Biggest Loser/ Brita Partnership

This clip from The Biggest Loser is a good example of product integration, and consumer education. They teamed up with Brita to promote water filters and incorporated the use of the product into the show.

The Office Chili's Product Placement

Example of Chili's being used in an episode of The Ofiice

Mad Magazine on the 'Burbs

Here's part of a Mad Magazine parody of suburban flight in the 1950s. Click on it to enlarge.

Extreme Makeover (Home edition)

This youtube video is a clip from Extreme Makeover (home edition). Although extreme makeovers main purpose or focal points is to help the people in need, there are still quite of few products that are quietly advertised throughout the show. One key thing that sells is donations from citizens throughout the U.S. or even companies as well. One company that Ive heard this show mention alot about is CVS pharmacy and all the donations they give. Even though this show does the idea of a particular product, there product is the idea of "help us help someone in need."

The Suburban Home Companion: Television and the Neighborhood Ideal in Postwar America

Lynn Spigel tries to explain the role of having a television set in the suburban home during the postwar era. The purpose is to reveal the cultural meanings and practices behind the arrival of the television and how suburban home-owners had adapted to its onset. One of the strong views towards the television is that it acted as an all-purpose return to family values in the home. The set was seen so far as to bringing the family together during times of dispute, acting as a medium of communication within the families' own household. There was also a strong attraction to the values of playing the role of participating in the community, as well as bonding with the neighbors.

This advertisement reveals the importance of a television set to bringing the family together.

This clip is an advertisement for a CROSELY television set in 1951. (1:44-2:35)

The methods that this technology introduced were that of travelling to distant and exotic places while remaining in the comfort of your own home. The ability to merge public and private spheres through the television set was the perfect companion for suburban homes. These home-owners saw this technology as a means of staying updated with the public and living through he television to continue doing so. Through owning a television set, the home-owners have developed a sense of belonging to their neighborhood, setting the status in which they lived.

This advertisement for a television set in 1959 showed the importance of owning a TV to all members of the family.

The author mentioned that one of the aspects that kept the Americans stable through the Depression was the design of suburban space. The suburban homes were meant to reduce the “urban clutter” and “purify communal spaces”. This sense of organization and conformation was a strong appeal to the female audience, attracting them to this sense of brining the home together. This advertising for a television set is promoting strong family values, while travelling within the comfort of your own home.

This clip shows the physical appeal of having a television set in your living space.


What are the advertisements for television sets that you have seen recently? How do they appeal to the consumer?

What has changed? Why?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

FCU: Fact Checkers Unit

FCU: Fact Checkers Unit is a humorous, short video series on sponsored by Samsung Mobile.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Televised Consumption

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inger L. Stole, “Televised Consumption: Women, Advertisers, and the Early Television Daytime Industry”

Article Blog by Julianna Salman

Stole focuses on the role of advertising as a funding system for television in the early 1950s, and how women were the target audience for most advertisers and broadcasters during early daytime television and the shift from radio adverting to television. She describes this through using the example of NBC’s 1950s program Home, a daytime show broadcasted every weekday between 1954 and 1957. Home is used to explore how advertisers and broadcast networks were integrated to appeal to a new consumer. Early TV programming and scheduling hoped to appeal to housewives and influence their consumption habits through new advertising techniques such as “magazine advertising” and cross promotion.

By offering daytime programming that emphasized the lifestyle of the traditional homemaker, broadcasters hoped that women would regard daytime TV as instrumental in making housekeeping more efficient and as an aid in bringing about a higher standard of living. Advertisers found homemaking shows as a potential way to maximize commercial sales through television.

The following is a short segment from an episode of Home, with Arlene Francis

Home “offered its viewers a staple menu of cooking, beauty, gardening, homemaking, child-rearing, and shopping,” to attract an audience that was able to identify itself with the consumption of up-scale women. It was able to have this sense of exclusivity and prestige, to its target audience, that differentiated it from local daytime programming, and daytime soap operas and game shows. The show was hosted by Arlene Francis, a “self-declared anti-feminist” and “ordinary housewife”, who held traditional opinions about gender roles. These daytime programs had to emphasize women’s roles as housewives and mothers because it was in these capacities that women bought more products. However, the show wasn’t performing as well as the network had hoped. It lost viewer attention and wasn’t entertaining. It was also mostly unsuccessful because advertisers were not in tune with and did not reflect the concerns of their desired audience.

Today, advertisers still try to promote their products, primarily to women. Home was striving to promote domestic perfection through their products because they believed that was the best market to attract more consumers. Even today women are told, through programs and advertising, perfection is the only way to be successful. Networks such as Lifetime operate on behalf of women and successfully promotes itself with a mission to “serve women’s interests”.

The following clip from The Rachel Ray Show is a modern day example of a daytime show targeted for female viewership with product endorsements


What are some other programs you can think of that target a particular audience?

How has advertising in television programming changed from the mid 20th century to today?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ernie Kovacs for Dutch Masters cigars

These are some of the all-time great TV ads, produced by TV "artist" and comedian Ernie Kovacs.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Supplemental Screening: A Word to the Wives

This promotional film dramatizes how two women conspire to convince a husband that its time to update the kitchen and/or entire house. You may recognize the actor who plays the husband, Darrin McGavin, as the dad in A Christmas Story. His wife in this short is played by an actress, Marsha Hunt, who struggled to find work during the 1950s because she was blacklisted. Found at:

Supplemental Screening: Cliche Family in TV Land

Here's a short film that was apparently made by a company which routinely produced television commercials. It's a parody of cliches from TV ads and was made in the early sixties. It also features Roger Price, a well-known comic writer of the era. Word is this was an "inside joke" of sorts. It was definitely not intended for mainstream distribution because of its brief and comic use of nudity. Found at Internet archive:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Advertising Women

Jennifer Scanlon, “Advertising Women: The J. Walter Thompson Company Women’s Editorial Department.”

Article Blog by Sterling Warren-Hepburn

Scanlon delves into the world of the women behind the advertisements in women’s magazines during the early twentieth century; specifically the women of the J. Walter Thompson agency, which was the most successful advertising agency in the United States at that time. The agency had a uniquely progressive stance on women in the workplace and provided great opportunities to the women employed there; even establishing a department run by women specifically geared to create advertising aimed toward female consumers.

Helen Lansdowne Resor (who we discussed Monday in class) was one of J. Walter Thompson’s female employees that made a name for herself during her time at the agency. She was the first person to use sex appeal in ads (very subtly) as a way to market products. This was found to be an incredibly successful marketing tool.

Two examples of Helen's ads:

Image and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPic

A recent ad (also for soap) that shows that we still use sex appeal to sell things (sorry this is huge!):

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Scanlon states that the women who worked in the department were “independent, resourceful, confident, and often feminist.” Most of them were middle to upper-middle class, and well educated. The women viewed their audience as complex and not easy to categorize. They did not think there was one "composite female" for them to sell things to. However, Scanlon describes a disconnect between these working women and their audience. Advertising was aimed toward the typical “housewife,” whose daily lives were very different from the lives of the women working in advertising at the agency. Scanlon also makes the point that the women found in the ads were more glamorous and idealized depictions of housewives, rather than being representative of what the audience of housewives was actually like.


Helen Resor developed the concept of using sex appeal in advertising. Why do you think this is an effective strategy?

Do you believe women are still emphasized as being the main consumers in our society (as opposed to men?) Why or why not?

Medicine and Madison Avenue Archive

If you haven't figured it out yet, Duke University's Digital Collections are the best place around for collections of ads. This one focuses on ads related to health and medicine.

Medicine and Madison Avenue

And here's the link to browse the categories.

Emergence of Advertising Archive

Here's another archive, linked through the Library of Congress. These ads focus on late 19th Century up to 1920s.

Emergence of Advertising Archive

Ad Access Archive

Here's a link to Duke University's Ad Access site. This is a terrific way to browse for ads from the 1910s to 1950s.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Marchand Article Online with Images

You can read this week's Marchand article on Advertising as Social Tableaux online. This is nice because you can see large photos of the many ads he discusses.