When a company markets a product, they attempt to evoke emotion in the consumer, emphasize the benefits of their product, and provide information on what it is they are selling. Because advertisements often use social stereotypes, fears, or norms to elicit emotion in the consumer, advertisements can reveal social ideology of the time period. Advertisements also give us an insight into the development of the product and its uses. Television advertisements in the 40’s and 50’s reveal aspects of society in the time period and clarify how people of the era viewed the television.
In the television advertisement above, it is apparent Motorola is targeting a wealthier consumer because of the elegant clothes and accessories the ladies are wearing. Both women are wearing ball gowns and one woman has a pearl necklace and fancy spectacles. Motorola is advertising to a wealthier consumer because in 1952, televisions were new and expensive. Motorola demonstrates that the fanciest, classiest person has not only one but two television sets. In this way the advertisement also attempts to evoke emotion by pinning the consumer against their neighbors. Motorola even depicts the lady with the television set as slimmer and more attractive in an attempt to identify the TV as something to be desired. The dialogue “our house has two baths!” followed by “That’s nothing. Ours has 2 Motorola TV sets!” is a clear indicator that Motorola wants to pressure consumers into having as much or more than their neighbors. This parallels a major change in the American economy from an economy of production to an economy of consumption. Another interesting aspect of the advertisement is the phrase “one for the grown ups; one for the kids” because it assumes that the consumer has kids. This is a valid assumption because 1952 is in the middle of the baby boomer years. While this advertisement elicits a variety of emotion from the consumer, it fails to mention anything specific or factual about its product. This indicates that the consumer’s main desire is not to have the highest quality TV, but rather the TV that will make them the coolest or most elite amongst their peers.
The Motorola advertisement was most likely successful. Motorola excels in knowing their consumer and ensuring that their ad appeals to the upper class. Motorola succeeds in creating an identity as the upmarket TV, which helps the consumer remember the brand name. While Motorola markets their products as elite TVs for the conscientious upper class, many other television companies created different images for their company and still managed to be successful.
Dumont tries to portray themselves as the forefront in innovation so the consumer will trust their product is cutting edge and superior in quality. In the advertisement above, Dumont portrays the TV as an item that will revolutionize the way the average American family lives and interacts with each other. An image of a family sitting on a couch watching television is shown in a spotlight surrounded by what looks like space or the heavens. Dumont surrounds the TV and family with this image to evoke awe in the consumer and emphasize the magnitude and revolutionary nature of the TV. In the picture, the TV seems like a dream, but the caption “are you ready for television” assures that it is now a reality. Because the caption directly addresses the reader, it grabs the reader’s attention and forces the reader to read more in order to answer the question.
The advertisement may also seem prophetic, declaring, “the time is here to become familiar with new measurements of human progress… economic political, scientific.” This seems like an odd thing to say in an advertisement, but Dumont includes it for the same reason the setting of the picture is space or the heavens—it evokes awe and empowerment in the consumer. Both the setting and the prophetic wording also allude to great scientific feats and technological achievements. By pairing their television with the idea of great scientific achievement Dumont hopes consumers will view their TV as equally important and astonishing. Dumont then goes on to declare their “impressive pre-war pioneering” and “advantageous patents” give them the best product. And finally, the text ends with a question directed at the consumer. The question, “the world stands on the threshold of an astonishing age.. Dumont Television is ready…Are You?”, forces the reader to think about the advertisement in the context of all of the recent scientific discoveries, with the implication that the Dumont TV is the next big achievement. Moreover, ending on a question requires the viewer to devise a solution, and if the answer to the question is yes, then the logical conclusion is that the reader should buy a TV.
While Dumont takes a very different approach from Motorola, Some of the social themes discussed in the first advertisement are seen in Dumont’s advertisement as well. In both advertisements, the family seems to play a very important role, which shows the companies must be comfortable assuming most people have a family. Another social theme that carries over is the idea of consumerism. The text in the Dumont advertisement states “television will carry…new products into million of homes.” This seems extremely irrelevant to marketing a TV, but it shows society’s emphasis on consumption at this time.
The Stromberg Carlson advertisement emphasizes the advanced technology that allows the TV to be seen from more angles. The text of the advertisement is very technical and specific to technology; however, the underlying theme is clearly the importance of the family. Stromberg Carlson is associating itself with a company that values and understands the importance of family. The text states “some engineers have forgotten the basic objective—to provide the best possible viewing comfort and clarity to the greatest number of people.” The italicization used in the advertisement makes it even clearer that the true focus is on the people watching. In the case of this ad, Stromberg Carlson is marketing to upper class people. This can be seen in the picture through the inclusion of a maid, the attire of the people, and the cat. This trend to advertise TV to the upper class is primarily because of the price range of the TV and the leisure time needed to watch it. Furthermore, the inclusion of the family is a common theme throughout all three advertisements. This indicates both a desire of the TV companies for the television to be linked to family and a common social value in the era.
Despite identifying with different things, these articles use the same strategies and methods in order to be successful. All of the ads attempt to evoke emotion from the consumer, prove their credibility, and provide information about the product. In an effort to create a reaction and make the product more relatable, all of the ads draw upon common social values, such as the importance of family and an emphasis on consumerism. It is the ability to successfully identify the company with a specific emotion, quality, or social value that determines a company’s success.
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Stromberg-Carlson. “Everybody but the kitten has a front row-seat” [TV0315].
Advertisement. Newsweek 1953. Duke University Libraries Digital Collections. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.