When I started to choose my historical object, I was walking around the kitchen. Among all those modern and fancy-designed kitchen appliances, refrigerator is the one entering my mind because the evolution of refrigerator is a long epic from the time when human understand the principles of refrigeration to the wide adoption of mechanical refrigeration in the processing, shipping and storing of perishable commodities nowadays. This article is going to present three different old ads from Frigidaire, one of the world’s oldest and most famous refrigerator brand. Back in 1918, Frigidaire began its mass production of electric refrigerators as electricity became available to urban household. By 1930s, the brand name “Frigidaire” was synonymous with refrigerator.
Since the 1920s, America witnessed the fast growing and mass produced advertising expenditures of modern companies. Along with the spread of new media-radio, television and commercial messages, advertising seems easier for company to reach out to customers. Here I will be discussing three Frigidaire ads posted on the magazine from the late 1920s.
The first advertisement was released before Christmas time. The title of the advertisement is “Give her a real thrill this Christmas!” The picture above is set in the kitchen where a father is holding his wife’s shoulder and their kid is bending down looking curious and thrilled at a huge double door refrigerator with a woodland wreaths hanging on the handle of the refrigerator in front of him. While the man is holding her wife, he put his other hand on his hip, looking proud and complacent. This gesture is suggestive of the fact that the man buys the refrigerator for his wife, and for his family’s sake. His hand gesture and facial expression accord with the title “Give her a real thrill this Christmas!”
For many Americans, they value Christmas a lot because it is one of the most joyous times of the year and it’s a family and friend reunion time. From the mind of businessman, Christmas is also a time when people flock to go shopping as if everything’s free. The advertisement producers catch hold of this holiest day of the year in people’s heart. They use “Christmas” to “trick” people into thinking that it is not unusual to buy new refrigerator on Christmas time because it is the right time to renew kitchen appliance of the year. Christmas also evokes the imaginary scene of family sitting together, sharing the most pleasant memory with the beloved one. Wouldn’t it be great to have a new refrigerator in the house where woman escalate their sense of happiness when doing dull housework? On the top of the advertisement, FRIGIDAIRE is all capitalized. Since Frigidaire at that time was already a well-known and successful brand. It applies the ethos here to invoke brand credibility of Frigidaire and at the same time build brand famous in an upper level.
Whether is by coincidence or not, the second advertisement I will be discussing also was dubbed the title “A priceless treasure in any home- Frigidaire”, with an emphasis of gift here. The housewife with an apron sitting in a wooden high bar chair while the husband is holding the ice cube tray, standing up beside his wife, to show how amazing it is for the fridge to make ice. The fridge is opening up so the inner design of the fridge is crystal clear. This description below the picture again emphases the brand name, Frigidaire Electric Refrigeration. It also presents customers the fact that “it has established new measures of convenience, cleanliness and economy.”
The last ad is a more than just picture and description. It has actual scene with ad line in it. It is in a restaurant where apparently the man and the woman are having a date. The woman goes “What MUST I do to convince you that I actually DON’T like warm lettuce” and then the man says “Well, now that you mention it again, I suggest that you either cultivate a taste for it—–or buy a Frigidaire.” The ad is pretty straightforward to show that Frigidaire is a best choice. The interesting description under the picture in which the ad demonstrates a scene where “In those less than well-regulated homes where the temperature of whatever it is ……”evokes the heart-rending scenes to make consumers to walk in other’s shoes and then generate the thought of how significant refrigerator it is in daily life.
Among all these three ads, one common thing is noticeable. Women in the ads wore more convenient clothing for activity and dressed more nicely without restriction such as corsets. They wear flappers and short glamorous dress above knee. They are typical 1920s women with short hair and necklace with long beads. According to most historians, the 1920s was a time of liberation for some women. Yet the role of woman in society wasn’t changing very fast. Certain role for woman still existed and it is noticeable in the previous two ads. Both two ads advocate the man do something handsome: buying a refrigerator to please the woman. Its assumption lying behind is women, in charge of housework, would be pleased to have some nice kitchen appliance to assist them. Women had some inextricable ties with the kitchen. They never walk out of the field of the house as if women are confined in their house. Due to woman’s relatively low social and economic status compare to that of man’s, even though the target group of consumers are woman, the ads essentially call for man to buy it because man has the economic ability to buy luxury goods.
However, we discussed how the ads present us the role of woman in society, and in the mean time they also show the improvement of overall treatments towards woman. Man is supposed to be a gentleman because woman should be taken good care of.
And they shed light on women’s changing role as modern homemaker. The ads reveal the way that what gestures man perceived to be handsome and gentleman as they reflect social norms and reinforce particular conceptions of the social order.
Advertising inadvertently produced some stereotypes about its social and ethical implications based on its historical context. Although in the 1920s, the advertising agencies were basically in the space in local newspapers and a range of magazines, the social impacts of advertising had never been weakened but increased.
Advertisement 7 — no title. (1926, Apr 29). Life (1883-1936), 87, 29. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/90783515?accountid=10747
Advertisement 22 — no title. (1927, Dec 15). Life (1883-1936), 90, 36. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/90814552?accountid=10747
Advertisement 23 — no title. (1927, May 05). Life (1883-1936), 89, 37. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/90863449?accountid=10747