120+ years of hating advertising

Thanks to Rob Walker for allowing to take this post entirely from his blog, Murketing, cause it’s just so good.

Statue of Liberty 500

One of my running themes is that there is nothing new about contemporary consumers being fed up with advertising. We hear all the time about supposed discovery that what sets today’s consumers apart is that they (we) “see through” marketing, and don’t trust it, etc.

So I made sure to bookmark the above image from blog Paleo-Future when it made the rounds while I was away last week. It’s from 1885, and titled “Advertising In The Near Future,” one of the earliest examples I’ve seen yet of popular distaste for ad overload and just how bad it could get. Particularly interesting in the satirical slathering of the Statue of Liberty with commercial slogans is the presence of “suredeath” cigarettes.

Clearly there were people who could “see through” marketing in the late 19th century, and who could count an audience that would get the joke. Just as clearly, seeing through marketing didn’t quite add up to resisting marketing. Kinda like today.

–Rob Walker

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