Summer Guide 2012
The real Sterling Coopers at work
Taschen volumes feature two decades of Madison Avenue selling the sizzle
Published: June 13, 2012
Prolific design writer Steven Heller contributes introductions to both volumes and lays a giant slice of doublethink on us:
Advertising is, after all, artificial truth. Of course, certain claims are accurate — makeup hides blemishes, soda is sweet, bad breath smells, headaches hurt, and sunglasses shade the eyes. Definitely, by the Sixties, phony snake oil and patent medicine advertisements from the turn of the century were long since abolished. Yet advertising, especially at this time, was nonetheless designed to outsmart, outdo, and outsell competition no matter what it was, through whatever means were tolerable within the parameters of so-called "truth in advertising" doctrines — which is a concept akin to allowing acceptable amounts of rat hair in food. Fabrications and exaggerations existed, but no one cared because the images, words, and concepts toed the line between the possible and the preposterous.
The truth will set you free, or drive you mad, man.
Joe MacLeod is art director of Baltimore's City Paper, where this piece originally appeared. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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