Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion: Its Dubious Impact on American Society

by Michael Schudson; Basic Books, 1986

It is important to acknowledge, then, that advertising is art-and is often more successful aesthetically than commercially. (In a 1981 survey of what television commercials people find the "most outstanding," a third of the people who selected Kodak ads praised James Garner and Mariette Hartley for their roles. In fact, Garner and Hartley appeared in Polaroid commercials--aesthetically successful without leaving as strong a commercial impression as the sponsor might have wished.)

We collect it. Old candy and coffee tins, old Coke signs, old tourist brochures, these are our antiques, our collected unconscious. But if advertising is art, the question remains: What does art do? What does art that is intended to do something do? What does art do, especially art as pervasive and penetrating as advertising in the contemporary United States?

Mariette Hartley index page