History of Advertising in America in Public Relations and Politics Part 2

About the history of advertising in America in the realm of public relations and politics, the rise of United States interest in pr and public opinion.


Reeves, former chairman of Ted Bates and Company, created, among other things: the "Invisible Shield"; M&M's that "melt in your mouth, not in your hand"; and Minute Maid that is "better for you than oranges squeezed at home."

To quote Reeves: "I think of the man in the voting booth who hesitates between 2 levers as if he were pausing between competing tubes of toothpaste in a drugstore. The brand that has made the highest penetration on his brain will win his choice." National Republican Chairman Leonard Hall said, "You sell your candidates and your programs the way a business sells its products."

"Policies and issues are useless for election purposes," Marshall McLuhan has said of the modern political situation. What is important is the image of the candidate. Political advertising learned how to research the populace, find out what it wanted, and shape its candidate's persona based on those findings.

The Democrats, although they planned to spend over $8 million on their own campaigns, could not find a major agency to take their account in 1956. As it turned out, 37 leading agencies gave $51,000 to the Republican party and zero to the Democrats, who finally found a smaller agency to handle their account.

Since the 1950s, advertising has become essential to American politics. Virtually all candidates hired ad agencies or PR people to promote themselves, and finally, an advertising man became one of the unelected rulers of the country: H. R. "Bob" Haldeman worked for the country's largest advertising agency before he worked for the world's most powerful political structure. Previous attempts at total national propaganda seem naive and shortsighted. The psychosociological effects of Total Uniform Image Penetration have yet to be understood. The influence of a few central decision makers becomes hugely magnified. A small number of conservative, white, profit-oriented males, mostly between the ages of 40 and 65, control almost all of the country's most persuasive image-producing resources.

Vance Packard, in The Hidden Persuaders, tells of the husband and wife team of political image shapers, Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter, who participated in over 70 winning campaigns, including those of Earl Warren and Goodwin Knight in California. They insist on complete creative control over the PR strategy. Skornia and Kitson, authors of Problems and Controversies in TV and Radio, described a new development called psychographics and pseudoevents. Researchers found that advertisements were becoming a substitute for the product. "Advertisers have been puzzled by the tendency of viewers and readers to pay special attention to the ads for products that they already owned. It is as if people used the ad to strengthen their impression of the product, and to get 'cued in' as to the means of relating themselves to it."

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