The Rise of Advertising
Early 70's CBC Radio Ad
The Rise of Advertising from the Mad Men era. That television series portrays the world of advertisers as sexy, manipulative and fascinating, complete with great characters and clothes, catchy jingles and writing. Ads are so much a part of our lives now- slapped on every surface and as background to every experience- that much of the time we've learned to tune it out. But there have always been people who worry about its insidious power to shape and influence the unsuspecting public- whether it's through ear worms that lodge themselves in your brain, subliminal ads that find sex in every ice cube or a robot like response that forces you to buy buy buy.
We have several pieces for you today. The earliest is a rather long, but fascinating piece from the CBC Radio program Citizen's Forum in 1949. Every week the program would feature discussions on what they considered to be important national issues with a panel of invited guests. The question on this occasion was "Is advertising an asset or a liability?"
The next piece is from 1957 and the program Assignment. It features Maurice Rapkin, a veteran of the advertising industry who started in the business in the mid 1920s, and claims to have invented the radio jingle.
After that, Next up, we have some of a documentary first aired in 1957 on a program called Cross Section. Journalist Raoul Engel visited an advertising agency to see how they put together an ad campaign. It was called Architects of Discontent.
Our last piece today features Barbara Frum, one of CBC radio's pioneering journalists and great interviewers. In this piece, which aired on As it Happens in 1974, she tries to uncover the truth and evidence behind the phenomenon of subliminal advertising. The guest, Dr. Wilson Key, a professor of journalism at the University of Western Ontario, works very hard to try and convince Barbara what he was seeing.
Of course our fascination with advertising continues- the proof being the CBC Radio program Under the Influence with Terry O'Reilly that looks at the world of the ad. It returns to the air in January.
And by the way, Season Six of Mad Men should start next spring.