Historical Advertising Study: Television

Television technology has been evolving and the industry has been growing for decades. The advertisements have also changed to fit with the demands of the consumers. The following advertisements were published through different mediums over a decade, showing the growth of the development of the television and the various features that became the subject of concern.

The first advertisement is for Du Mont Telesets and it’s headline is ‘Get the most out of your life… with TELEVISION’. The next title is ‘Get the most out of Television… with DU MONT’, which indirectly advertises the company as the tool to get the best out of life. It was published in a newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune, in 1946, which was a decade after televisions began to be sold commercially. The advertisement is black and white, and the word TELEVISION is written in a big bold letters across the top which will instantly grab the reader’s attention. The background of the page is pictures of television programs and a living room with a television set. There are multiple pictures of dancers and sports, which indicates that those were the predominant leisure activities of that period. There is a picture of a ship, which caters to the male population. The sports attract males and the dancers attract females or couples, hence engaging both genders. The photo of the living room promotes television as a family or social activity and sends a message that it can be integrated into the reader’s lifestyle. There is also a small text box in the centre of the page highlighting the attractions of the product, using words such as “thrills”, “pleasure” and “biggest events”. The bottom of the page has the week’s television highlights under broad categories such as Sports, Drama, Variety and Comedy, which cover programs that will draw people from various backgrounds and ages in. The ad makes assumptions about the type of activities that interest the target audience and that the customers come from a high enough socio-economic background to afford this luxury. The visual imagery is powerful and the most eye-catching words/phrases proclaim the potential effect of the product on the customers. Since it is in a newspaper, it reaches a target audience of a wide range but assumes that educated people want to buy a television.

The second advertisement was published in 1952 in a magazine called Better Homes and Gardens. Since it is published in a magazine which advertises ways to ‘better’ consumers’ homes, it indicates that a television can improve a home. A home and improvement magazine would probably be bought by a woman. The title is ‘The “sandman” was forgotten… the picture stayed clear and steady’. The sandman was a mythical character who brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto eyes of people as they sleep. It was predominant in European folklore, indicating that the target audience was Europeans. There is a large photo of a family watching a tv which is wrapped like a present with a bow with a christmas tree. The mother, father, son and daughter are all smiling and appear to be enjoying the program. This highlights that the television can provide entertainment for all ages and genders. The mother and father are dressed well and the price and range of television models indicates that it could be bought by consumers from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds with a variety of needs. Since the family is having fun together, it markets family life. Christmas is associated with grand gifts and merriment, making this television present even more wonderful. The seal of the company is largely printed in the middle of the ad. The ad says that ‘your dealer’ is ‘waiting for your call’, making it personalized. Words such as “restrained simplicity”, “owners proudly recommend” and “friendly charm” make it more enticing and polished. The ad focuses on the quality of the pictures remaining clear for a long period of time, which could have been the main problem faced by consumers.

The third advertisement was published in 1956 on a billboard. This targets people who drive, which could range from any socioeconomic background. This ad emphasizes clarity and has a picture of a cat reacting to a picture of a dog on the television, showing that it has life like clarity. This ad only says “You can see it BETTER on a CROSLEY TV” because it is meant for people who are moving fast and hence do not have time to read a long description. It is meant ot have maximum amount of impact with the smallest number of words. This ad does not target younger consumers who cannot drive yet, but could be strategically placed around shops to attract people who do not drive.

Both, the newspaper and magazine advertisements, promoted togetherness either socially or as a family and showed that the television could be integrated into daily life. The focus of the three ads was different; the first one emphasized life improvement through a television set, the second one pointed out longevity and the third one stressed on image clarity. This follows the trend of technological advancements. At first the television needed to be introduced to the market, after which problems such as the deterioration of pictures needed to be addressed and finally the clarity was refined and is still evolving with new technology such as Blu Ray and HD being released.

Citations:

Allen B. DuMont Laboratories, Inc. “Get the most out of life… with Television”. Advertisement. New York Herald Tribune. 1946. Duke Digital Collections. Web 1 Dec. 2014.

http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess_TV0483/

Sentinel Radio Corporation. “The “sandman” was forgotten… the picture stayed clear and steady!”. Advertisement. Better Homes and Gardens. 1952. Duke Digital Collections. Web 1 Dec. 2014.

http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess_TV0325/

Crosely. “You can see it Better on a Crosley TV”. Advertisement. 1956. Duke Digital Collections. Web 1 Dec. 2014.

http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/oaaaarchives_BBB5336/

The End of Social Eating

Movie pitch based on The End of Food by Lizzie Widdicombe:

We have all seen movies about the end of the world brought on by various different scenarios such as a zombie apocalypse, war, catastrophes in nature, etc. But have we ever imagined our lives without food? Have we ever stopped to think that we spend most of our day either thinking about food or eating it. Food is the way we socialize, the way we escape from our work and has become a lifestyle. But what is the main reason we eat food? It isn’t because of the taste but because our body needs certain nutrients to keep us alive. This movie will describe the life of a man named Rob Rhinehart who invents an alternative to normal food, known as Soylent, which provides only the essential nutrients required for us to stay healthy with no unnecessary extra ingredients. This movie will follow his life journey and the unexpected consequences that he had to face because of his invention.

It will begin with the story behind the invention, which was that Rhinehart had no money to spend on food and hence decided to come up with this economical alternative to buying food which significantly  cut down his costs. Then the quick development of the product will be shown. What I really want to focus on is the social impact of his invention. A time lapse moving to ’15 years later’ will show that the entire world is now living only on Soylent and Rhinehart has become the most famous and successful inventors of all time. He has solved hunger problems around the world. But what he did not expect was that humans were not social animals anymore. Nobody had the time for each other because they had so much energy to focus on work. Nobody had to take out time everyday to eat and hence their interactions with other humans had depleted to almost none.

We have seen movies about technology taking over people’s lives and decreasing face-to-face interaction. This movie will show how removing food from our lives takes away the most important way in which humans communicate and depict another way in which life as we know it can completely change.

The Connotations of Water

In Hindu culture, Gangajal or water from the Ganges River is considered sacred and holy. Even though there is nothing significantly different between other river water and water from the Ganga, we attribute holiness and purity to it. Bathing in Gangajal is believed to purify us of our sins and rid us of any bad karma. Drinking it is said to cure diseases such as asthma, skin diseases and other ailments. The water is meant to relieve all physical ailments as well as mental ones. People travel from all corners of India to visit the Ganges and taste the water. They wash their feet and bathe in the river even during the coldest months of the year. A trip to the Ganges is equivalent to a pilgrimage. The Ganges can provide salvation and answer the prayers of Hindus.

If I was given 2 bottles, one filled with water from the Ganges and one with water from a tap, I would not be able to identify any differences. The water has no visible, olfactory or tactile difference to clean water from any other source. However, the myth behind it ascribes a a deeper meaning to it.

Water also has implications in other cultures. For example, holy water in Christianity is used for baptism and the blessed water is sprinkled over patrons as they enter church. In Greek religion, purifying people and locations with water was part of the process of distinguishing the sacred from the profane.

The connotation of water varies from culture to culture, but over the years the several meanings of water have evolved so that we can possibly never think of water without associated it with a memory or experience.

This association exists with almost any word or idea. No word can exist on its own and will always come attached with a meaning that is personal and based upon our ancestry, surroundings and personal experiences.

Everybody has a unique perception of the world

My great grandfather was always an extremely happy and warm man. He used to tell all of us stories about his childhood and about his enormous house in his hometown. He used to describe their swimming pool and the beautiful garden, which were a big deal back in the day. The only time I remember him being negative was when he spoke about Pakistanis. He attributed only inferior qualities to them, and blamed them for the partition and the destruction associated with it. He felt no need to show respect towards them.

At first I was taken aback. It angered me that someone from my family could show such hatred and bias towards a group of people. I had never experienced anyone I was related to being racist. What was even more confusing was that nobody ever sounded as shocked as I did at his behavior. This bothered me and I often brought it up with my dad. He always responded saying “You don’t know the full story, he probably has his reasons.” I was never satisfied with this answer, but out of respect from my great grandfather I never questioned it.

Finally I got tired of wondering and my curiosity overcame me. I asked my great grandfather why he disliked Pakistanis. We then sat for 3 hours, while he told me stories and his experiences which made him formulate his opinion and perception of them. My great grandfather lived through the partition. He was alive when the riots happened. His reality was what we studied in school. He grew up hearing live news about a temple being burnt down by Muslims and my great grandmother had to hide in a bomb shelter while she heard her friends being killed and the riots outside her window. This was what they faced as teenagers. This changed his life forever and he said that he could never leave those memories behind. My great grandfather did not grow up in a period of harmony between Indians and Pakistanis and therefore his view of the world is different from mine.

I finally understood where he was coming from and though I may not share his opinion, I do understand it. This changed my relationship with him and strengthened our bond. I stopped thinking of his hatred for Pakistanis as a flaw and more as a world view that was built upon his encounters. This is when I knew my research was complete.

This has taught me to never judge a person’s behavior without knowing the motivation behind it. It made me realize that nobody’s perception of the world will be the same because it the sum of all our individual experiences.

What is Real Literature?

Literature is defined as “written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit”. I have never been particularly interested in studying literature because I have always studied texts that are undecipherable and complex. Literature in high school was about a long list of literary devices that our teacher dictated to us and a struggle to memorize every single example of the text that connected to a more philosophical theme using vocabulary that is unheard of in spoken English. Classroom literature was literally and figuratively traveling into the “Heart of Darkness”.

In comparison with the complexity of classroom literature, Sherlock Holmes does not play to the stereotypes. It is easy to follow, there are few deeper meanings that need to be unravelled, and there isn’t a greater theme or message than Doyle is attempting to send. This does not make it a ‘bad’ piece of literature, but makes it enjoyable and light compared to hardcore convoluted works. Doyle engages the reader through a riveting plot, suspense, mystery and a climax.

Doyle does use various literary techniques, but not as overtly and heavily as stereotypical classroom literature. His range of vocabulary is vast but not overused and can be understood in the context of the sentence, which is often not the case the classroom novels.

The genre of Doyle’s work is not one that I would expect in a classroom setting. The genres that I have been exposed to in high-school were tragedies, colonial literature, tragicomedies, etc. The only work in high-school that was similar to Doyle’s story was Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Achebe wrote a meaningful story based in Africa which dealt with themes such as the struggle between change and tradition, language and power. However, his story was easy to follow and engrossing without frying my brain.

I wouldn’t categorize The Adventures of the Cardboard Box as a scholarly book that critics could discuss for decades to come, but that does not make it less of a great piece of literature. Literature is most often meant to reach a wider audience, which can only be achieved if it does not leave the reader with a headache. I am not saying that there should not be an important social message or universal theme revealed explored in the book. But all literature studied should not be tedious, otherwise it gives students the impression that ‘real literature’ cannot be understood without a PhD in Literature.

Doyle’s books are ones that I would read as leisure, which is the stark difference between this story and the literature we are made to read in class. If I was exposed to this side of literature from the beginning of high-school, I could have developed an interest in the subject as opposed to a fear of it. Literature should be relatable to the reader. The story should evoke a curiosity and connection to the setting or context or a specific character; not necessarily an identification with these aspects but a fascination.

Blog Revision of “Touch Someone”: The Diversity of Sociability

Sociability is the quality of being more sociable. How did this definition come into being? Is it a quality that we are inherently born with or are we influenced by facets of society that alter our behavior to make it more socially acceptable? Through what sources is sociability being taught to us? The article “Touch Someone: The Telephone Industry Discovers Sociability” describes the evolution of the telephone as a social tool and in this essay, it will be compared to culture as a device to inculcate sociability.

“Touch Someone: The Telephone Industry Discovers Sociability” is insightful as it combines the significance of telephones from a technological, industrial and social perspective. Telephones have developed from being a fascinating technology for communication to one of the most widely used social tools. As described in the article and seen today, the telephone industry is money-making and the technology has evolved to an extent that it traverses most of the world’s most remote areas. Telephones are often perceived as antisocial and an obstacle that prevents face-to-face interaction. Through telephones we can now communicate and maintain relationships across the globe. Hence, according to me, a telephone is more social than antisocial.

Another circumstance in which people are taught how to interact with one another in a friendly way is through culture. Each culture imbibes certain mannerisms that are expected of men, women, children, adults or elders belonging to that particular ethnicity. From the smallest thing such as “keep your elbows off the dinner table” to “touch elders feet when you greet them to show respect”; culture guides us to behave in a socially acceptable way according to where we come from.

Sociability in cultures has to be taught, either through direct instruction or observation. People were influenced to think of telephones as a social rather than technological object through advertisements and other tools as explained in the article. In this way both telephones and culturally accepted behavior have to be taught. For our generation, just as we grew up with the culture that surrounds us and automatically gets imbibed in us; we also grew up with telephones as a social device and hence both the cases are similar. However, telephones have an industrial, technological and profit motivation where as the inculcation of culture is to showcase heritage, keep traditions alive and pride in one’s ancestry. Culture is not always taught intentionally. Most of the time, subtle behaviors and habits of adults are picked up by children., which is why it is important to live in a healthy environment.

Culture differs from place to place. Though certain norms are common to most cultures, some are extremely specific to a particular ethnicity and are important to being perceived as “friendly” in that faction of society. For example, in India we would never call our parents or any adult by their first name. We always address them as Papa (dad), Dadaji (paternal grandfather), Chachi (aunt), Nani (maternal grandmother), etc. Where as, in western culture it is acceptable to address elders by their first names. Cultural behavior also differs between genders. In India, men and women have a clear distinction in their roles in society. This leads to a difference in the  perception of what is appropriate and how one must conduct themselves and thus society teaches us how to behave sociable.

The two examples of devices through which we can develop into more sociable beings show two different perceptions of sociability and two extremely varied methods. Culture specific behaviors are not necessarily received in the same way by a diverse group of people and the telephone can sometimes be viewed as promoting anti-sociability. This makes us question the definition of sociability and whether a person can be perceive as sociable to various groups of people.

“Touch Someone”

I found “Touch Someone” extremely insightful as it combined the significance of telephones from a technological, industrial and social perspective. Telephones have evolved from being a fascinating technology for communication to one of the most widely used social tools. As described in the article and seen today, the telephone industry is money-making and the technology has evolved so much so that it traverses most of the world’s most remote areas. Telephones to me are an important social tool. Being an international student, a telephone is the of the most important devices for me to keep in touch with my family and friends. Without the telephone, I would be unable to maintain my relationships even in university. Hence, a telephone to me makes me more social rather than antisocial.

Another circumstance in which people are taught how to interact with one another in a friendly way is through culture. Each culture imbibes certain mannerisms that are expected of men, women or adults. From the smallest thing such as “keep your elbows off the dinner table” to “touch elders feet when you greet them to show respect”; culture guides us to behave in a socially acceptable way according to where we come from.

Culture differs from place to place. Though certain norms are common to most cultures, some are extremely specific to a particular ethnicity and are important in being perceived as “friendly” in that culture. For example, in India we would never call our parents or any adult by their name. We would always address them as Papa (dad), Dadaji (paternal grandfather), Chachi (aunt), Nani (maternal grandmother), etc. Where as, in western culture it is acceptable to address elders by their first names.

Cultural behavior also differs between gender. In India, men and women have a clear distinction in their roles in society. This leads to a difference in what the appropriate way to conduct themselves is and thus how society teaches them to socially behave.

Sociability in cultures has to be taught, either through direct instruction or observation. People were influenced to think of telephones as a social rather than technological object through advertisements and other tools. In this way both telephones and culturally accepted behavior have to be taught. For our generation, just as we grow up with the culture that surrounds us and automatically gets imbibed in us; we also grew up with telephones as a social device and hence both the cases are similar. However, telephones have an industrial, technological and profit motivation where as the inculcation of culture is to showcase heritage, keep traditions alive and pride in one’s ancestry.

Response to “Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media”

In today’s day and age, social media can be used not only for communication but for various other purposes. Scientists are now doing ground breaking research to preempt the spread of diseases, simply by tracking and finding patterns in social media. According to me, social media can have various applications that surpass anything that we can imagine, much like the epidemic predicting strategy. I would not be against the use of my Facebook posts as part of social experiments, as long as I have given informed consent for its use.

I find social media experiments that generate information that are generalized to a particular population, troubling. These generalizations are what give rise to stereotypes about a particular gender, age, socioeconomic background, race or ethnicity.

The conclusions that are drawn may not be accurate because social media platforms do not give a factual and realistic depiction of the person’s character. Social media such as Twitter or Facebook often give rise to a misrepresentation of oneself to fit social norms and avoid stigmatization. This results in a facade that is created which may be the complete opposite of what people truly are.

Most authors and researchers only take gender, personality and age. Though these broad categories do account for various differences in the language we use on social media, authors are missing key categories. In my opinion, age can account for level of education and hence that does not require to be introduced as a new category. As we go to higher grades, the way we speak and write evolves. We are introduced to more vocabulary and as we develop into adults, our style of writing also changes. Age itself may not fully account for these changes, as not everyone receives the same level of education; however, educated people are the majority of social media users.

A category that I would have definitely added to this study would be ethnicity or country of residence. Our society and community shapes our morals and how we communicate. A certain phrase may be prevalent in a certain area of the world and the urbanization of the country can influence the frequency of the use of abbreviations and slang. Hence, generalizing the entire female population of the word to be the most frequent users of ‘omg’ or other such claims would be misleading and incorrect.

This article made me introspect about which group I would probably be categorized into, and whether that group truly represents who I am. It made me think about the generalizations that I make in my mind and how I associate certain words to a group of people. Social media data-mining may prove useful, if the researchers use the data in manner so that stereotyping can be avoided; and as long as they take informed consent before using a person’s private posts.