Is our advertising any different from the “laughable” campaigns of the 1950s on its use of stereotypes and views?
As Jean Kilbourn points out : “Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be.”
In fact, the “American dream” faith has been used as a powerful and persuasive tool through yesterday’s and today’s advertising works.The American dream stereotype is “the belief that everyone in the US has the chance to be successful,rich, and happy if they work hard” and this definition perfectly reflects how Americans have shaped their way of thinking, their life perspective and expectations from the 50s till nowadays.
For example, let’s analyse how the American dream stereotype has been used within the American (dream) car campaign yesterday and today. It is a known fact that Americans love their cars and the 1950s were the pinnacle of American automotive manufacturing. American cars stood out from the rest for their unique style and cutting-edge design. Thanks to the growing productivity that had brought a rise in the standard of living, and the phenomenon of suburbanisation, the American’s sense of belonging, pride and car sales perfectly blended together.
The above image shows a1950’s ad depicting different brands from General Motors. As the copywriting suggests, GM are selling “dreams on wheels” and the image illustrates what the American dream has brought into US society: happiness, wealth and fabulous cars.
Today the automobile industry still represents one of the biggest American industries. However, even though more than 60 years have passed since the incredible 1950’s, advertisers keep using similar persuasion techniques. The research of the personal and intimate cultural sense of belonging as a unique selling point is still one of advertisers’ strongest strategies, and sometimes they even draw on the good old American Dream.
During last year’s Super Bowl, the most important American mainstream event, Chrysler released a perfect example of how contemporary patriotism would look like.
The voice of the commercial is from the American rock god Bob Dylan, that after a few seconds appears on the screen as the main narrator of the ad.
It should be pointed out that the Italian car company FIAT has recently acquired Chrysler. As a consequence of the fusion, Chrysler, which was a symbol of the American car manufacturing industry, had to reinforce and reinvigorate its own image and sense of belonging among the American target audience.
Detroit, once the cornerstone of America’s economic resonance, was a city badly hit by the economic recession. In this context, the incredibly expensive commercial (part of a campaign that cost Chrysler $16million) represents a heavy-hand investment in terms of cultural values and national recognitions.
Chrysler resuscitated the traditional advertising campaign where “American-made cars represent the idea of the American dream”.
I do not see people questioning and trying to modify stereotypes, I see people embracing the certainties, which modern stereotypes represent as they give them a sense of security. People today are being persuaded by the same techniques that have been used in the 1950s’. All in all, I would not laugh at yesterday’s society.