Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

Dear holiday lovers,

Growing up, I definitely didn’t take Veterans’ Day very seriously, except as a reason to sleep in. There were only two people in my family who ever saw a battle front—my Bronx-reared great-uncle, who was a paratrooper in the Pacific, and my Czech grandfather, who fought with the Russian army against the Nazis. The first died when I was five, and the other seldom spoke about his past. My mother, meanwhile, forbid my brother and me from playing with G.I. Joe action figures or even waterguns. So the military was pretty far from my mind as a child.

Since 2001, of course, it’s been fairly hard not to think about the military on a regular basis, whether you have a personal connection or not. And surely Veteran’s Day takes on a new meaning at a moment when America is waging war on two fronts. For today, then, I wanted to point you, dear readers, to the American Folklife Center’s (alas, not easy to navigate) Veterans History Project, which includes literally thousands of audio and video interviews with veterans from World War I to those of our present day. The 185 interviews with men and women back from Iraq and Afghanistan include soldiers such as Specialist Rosetta Tywanna Rainge Floyd from Oklahoma City; Specialist Bradley Keith Oxford from North Carolina; and Staff Sergeant Shawn Russell Stenberg, who shared the photograph below.

At the risk of sounding a cynical note on Veterans’ Day, I also feel compelled to point out a few of the commercials (and promises) that the Army has used to find new recruits. For one, check out this ad from the Reagan Era, complete with a rock song from what sounds like a Bruce Springsteen tribute band, “’cause freedom isn’t free.” Also, does anyone else vaguely remember this “Be All That You Can Be” ad from 1986? And just to round things out, here’s one from the recent Army Strong campaign. It’s nice to know that their production values have gone up, even if their recruitment standards have gone down. Who needs all those gay Arabic translators anyway?

Patriotically yours,


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Dear reluctant researchers,

As you ponder the results of yesterday’s elections, I thought you might appreciate a visit from the ghosts of political campaigns past. No, I haven’t summoned the spirit of Fiorello Laguardia again. But I have uncovered a fascinating archive from the Museum of the Moving Image: “The Living Room Candidate,” which includes over 300 campaign commercials from the 1950s to the present.

My favorite  of these has to be this jaunty Eisenhower ad from 1952, animated by Disney. As the everymen and women sing, “You like Ike, I like Ike,/
Everybody likes Ike—for president./ Hang out the banners, beat the drums,/ We’ll take Ike to Washington.” Unfortunately, the elephant beating the drum could not vote himself.

Ike for President

Conveniently you can also browse the ads by genre, including my favorite, the always effective “fear.” Some of you out there may remember this charming Lyndon Johnson commercial from 1964, which managed to impress on a nation still reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy the imminent danger of nuclear attack. Your daisy won’t help you now, little girl.


And if you only have a few minutes, check out the curator’s choice gallery, including this seventies-tastic bio of Jimmy Carter. Though you could be forgiven for thinking the opening music and visuals were introducing a new Laverne-and-Shirley-inspired sitcom, “Jimmy and Walt!” doing it their way.

Jimmy Carter bio

Oh, hell, just one more. How about this disgustingly sentimental ad for George Bush, Senior?

George HW Bush

George HW Bush 2

Is it just me, or are they re-enacting the lobster scene from Annie Hall on the right?

Democratically yours,


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Dear La-Z-Boy loungers,

I don’t know about you, but I vastly preferred board games as a child over the more dangerous (and potentially embarrassing) pursuits of the athletics field.  Still I can’t help but think all of those hours spent on the living room rug must have prepared me in some way for adulthood. “Monopoly” taught me about finance; “Sorry” introduced me to the art of passive-aggressive apologies; “Candyland” revealed the dangers of psychotropic drugs; “The Game of Life,” taught me about forming a heterosexual family—not that I’ve followed all of their instructions.

Fat Boy's GameIf that leaves you wondering about the history of board games past, try digging through the rich archives of Life magazine, now available (and searchable by keyword) on Google Books. In 1970, the great glossy pointed readers towards some socially conscious board games perfect for readers of the Moynihan Report. In “Black and White,” for instance, every “black” player starts off with $10,000, and every “white” player starts out with a cool million. How’s that for disparity! And in the classroom-friendly “Ghetto,” your kids can learn what it’s like to live as a “typical slum dweller.”

Or why not commemorate the Civil War with a board game specially designed for Life. In “1863,” “everyone gets a chance to fight it over again. ”

Doll for Black GirlsAnd last but not least, some diversions from Parker Brothers. Sure, you can still find “Clue,” but what about “Fat Boy’s Game,” perfect for Christmas 1951! Read more about it, and the bestseller on which it was based here, courtesy of the blog “Isn’t Life Terrible?” (From the same Life issue, don’t miss the article, “Doll For Negro Children,” across from a cigarette ad with the tagline “Discriminating People Prefer…”).

That’s all for today, dear readers! Until next time.

Yours in indoor entertainment,


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Dear snooze-button specialists,

Eating may be one of the more delightful ways to delay work. People who don’t spend their lives in libraries and classrooms for a living might, in fact, be surprised at how many lunches, teatimes, coffee breaks, iced coffee breaks, brownie breaks, suppers, dinners, desserts, and happy hours you can fit into a single day—not to mention those golden moments when you discover free leftovers from a talk or workshop you didn’t attend.

SupergoopOf course, eating well requires work all its own. Thankfully, the A.V. Geeks have posted countless classic (and by classic, I mean truly awful) educational films on their website, including several specifically related to food. Like the Prelinger Archive, the A.V. Geeks specialize in ephemeral films, though their collection weighs a little more heavily towards the 1960s and 1970s (Duke has them to thank for digitizing their Ad Views archive). Many of their films are also available for purchase on DVD, which may explain why the site is so poorly indexed.

Nonetheless, for the devoted delinquent like myself, a quick scan for films of the 1970s reveals such gems as “Soopergoop,” where an animated cat reveals the manipulative techniques of advertising execs looking to sell a new cereal. Or there’s “Munchers: A Fable,” a claymation pic about tooth decay with a psychedelic soundtrack and a black devil named “Jack Sweet.”

BarbecueSpeaking of psychedelic, don’t miss the kids getting down in “Story of a Peanut Butter Sandwich.” And last but not least, there’s a public service announcement about “National Barbecue Month,” where a bunch of teens in cowboy hats learn the joys of a well-cooked steak.

Onto the day! Isn’t it lunchtime yet?

Hungrily yours,


P.S. I couldn’t resist highlighting one more video: Believe it or not, my health teacher in eighth grade actually showed us this frightening 1979 film about male puberty, “Am I Normal?“—poorly timed erections and carefully coiffed hair included.

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Dear readers,

Who, or what, is the Lazy Scholar, you ask? I’ve been mulling for a few months now the idea of starting blog devoted to the ideal of scholarly sloth–doing as much research as humanly possible without actually leaving your computer. In all seriousness, I think that web archives are an incredible resource for  scholars and teachers–particularly as it grows increasingly difficult to pry computers out of the hands of most  undergraduates (and many graduate students, too). So, on with the entry:

Some of you may already have come across Duke Libraries’ impressive digital collection, though I hadn’t until a few weeks ago. Among the newest gems rests their “AdViews” collection, an iTunes-powered menagerie of TV commercials from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Among my favorites, these creepy Corn Flakes ads (link will launch in iTunes) and these minstrel-y Honeycomb ads (“Come to the Honeycomb Hideout!”). You should also check out their highlights.

Sugar Coated Corn Flaked

For those studying the years before the baby boom, there’s also their fabulous Emergence of Advertising in America, with illustrated ads from 1850 to 1920. The broadsides section not only includes ads for hardware (NAILS!) and railroad shows (GIRAFFES!), but also some placed by detective agencies (WANTED FOR RAPE!


This is only a small glimpse of their resources on advertising–and an even smaller glimpse of Duke’s overall digital resources. If anyone else skims the collection (or has used it before), it would be great to highlight some of their other collections. But for now, I’m back to work. And by work, I mean surfing the internet for other distractions.

Lazily yours,


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