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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's a Mad World

When I was in high school - Year 11 or 12...I can't remember which. It was loooong ago, okay? - I had to read a book for English class called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. 

Originally published in 1957, the book exposed the (then) secret world of advertising and brands. A bit like what the Gruen Transfer (a show I love to catch when I can) does today.

As one example, Packard wrote about the use of jingles in advertising to 'hypnotise' purchasers. Think about it: who can hear the song Nobody Does it Better these days without thinking of LJ Hooker? Huh? Can you?

I found the book really fascinating, which was quite a big thing for me back then, because I really wasn't in to reading anything other than Sweet Valley High and Danielle Steele books at the time. In fact, the essay I wrote summarising the book was the first (and probably the last) A+ I received for essay writing. It certainly wasn't my strong point back then, but having a fascinating subject to work with (coupled with the fact that a bunch of us got together and allocated chapters to summarise so we could switch papers and reduce the workload) meant that I got by.

Recently, I started watching Mad Men - my latest 'iron to' tv show. For those of you living under a rock, that's a tv series about the advertising industry - and the people in it - set in the 1960s. I've wanted to watch it for so long now. I love shows set in that era.

Not only do I find the advertising agency aspect of the show fascinating, it's realising how far we've come as a society that really interests me. The show begins with ad execs trying to find a way to divert people's attention from the latest research (which many of them don't believe) that seems to show that smoking is bad for you. Ha! Really? In another scene, a daughter walks in with a see-through plastic dry cleaning bag over her head and body. Her mother says something like, "Honey, don't mess up Daddy's shirts." She completely misses the fact that her daughter has A PLASTIC BAG OVER HER HEAD! Funny. And I haven't even touched on how the show depicts women in the workforce and the home. Even though we still have a way to go yet on the workforce front, it's also interesting to see just how differently women were treated back then.

I'm only a few episodes in, and have to catch up to Hubby who is currently on episode 9 (it's his current 'work out to' tv show) so we can start watching it together.

I'm totally doing some ironing today. Hooked.

How about you? What tv show has you currently hooked? Are there any advertising jingles that have totally ruined a good song for you, or has stuck in your head and DRIVES YOU INSANE?!


Naomi said...

I have nothing on TV at the moment... I am waiting for more Dexter and Downton Abbey, I hope they comes soon!

Chantel said...

They really don't use jingles much in advertising anymore compared to my childhood. We must be more receptive to the visual messages now than the audio. Used to love the community service ad jingles we had (dont know if it was only WA) about the Vitamins, Ding-A-Lings, Brushing Teeth and Five Food Groups :o)

Anonymous said...

It is really fascinating how times have changed, not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of attitudes, in what, when you think is a relatively short time.

Jodi @ The Scribble Den said...

I am waiting for The Good Wife to return. My absolute favourite!

And I used to love the Louie the Fly jingle when I was a kid :)

Thea said...

I swung by here earlier to link your post to mine, and it just occured to me that I forgot to comment!! How rude of me!

As you now know...ad in general drive me insane! But I do love The Gruen Transfer, too!! :)

Sannah said...

I adore Mad Men, but I don't think I have seen the most recent series. Better go and buy it - I like your idea of ironing to it! It'd make my husband happy too - I don't iron usually:)
I love The Gruen transfer too.
My mum is a big advocate of mothers staying at home, but was talking the other day about how she can imagine that a lot of today's grandmother's probably encouraged their daughters to be working mothers, because it really was only a couple of decades ago that women were so totally dependent on men for money, and often this was quite demeaning. It is interesting to see how far things have come for women in just a couple of decades, I feel very lucky to be a mother and a woman now. Quite different to what it was like in the times that madmen was set.
xx Sannah

Janelle said...

I like the idea of ironing to TV, but every time I've tried I find I miss stuff because I'm looking at the clothes and not the screen! Usually I can do two things at once, but not all the time it would appear.
My current TV crushes are Weeds, Dexter, Packed to the Rafters, and True Blood. On my "to-watch" list are Entourage and Breaking Bad, and now I think I'll add Mad Men as I've heard about it but not watched any yet!
Now if only they would make days longer than 24 hours, I may have time to do all this TV watching....