Logo Click BACK to return to Basecamp
Lost Teachers
Search Info
White beveled edge

Neda Dispatch

Meet Neda

Neda Archive



Got Milk? Got Everything? The Rise of Advertising from the 1920s to Today


From billboards to buses to British Airways planes atop buildings, advertising is everywhere!

Here's a quiz for you: Do you know what product goes with each character or slogan?

  1. The Golden Arches
  2. Just do it
  3. Snap! Crackle! Pop!
  4. Colonel Sanders
  5. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
  6. The doughboy
  7. Just for the taste of it
  8. Jolly Green Giant
  9. The Energizer Bunny
  10. Toucan Sam

If you could answer any of these questions (and I bet you could), you can thank ADVERTISING!


Advertising is everywhere. Turn on the TV and you will see one commercial after another. Drive down the street and you will see ads on buses and billboards and hear them on the radio.


Feeling the Beat - an evening of fine poetry readings

How did we come to be surrounded by so many advertisements? And who came up with the idea, anyway?

Advertising in the United States started pretty simply, and mostly gave information about products. But early in the twentieth century, advertising changed. In the 1920s, the economy was booming. More people had more money to spend than they ever had before. Also, there were new ways to make many products very quickly in factories: products like cars, vacuum cleaners, toothpaste, and Jell-o! There were new magazines that reached people all over the country - people who could look at ads and decide to buy new products. And radio was just getting off the ground.

Neda and the Quaker Oats Man share a few laughs at breakfast

With all this stuff to sell, and all these people ready to buy it, advertisers went to work. They made ads bigger and more colorful. Instead of just giving information, they tried to give people feelings about products - so milk was about a happy family, or a car was about being rich and stylish. They tried to make people feel like if they didn't buy products like face cream or deodorant, they couldn't be beautiful or smell good. They also pushed brands, like Quaker Oats, and hoped people would buy their brand and not another.

Do you think Mr. Peanut, Mr. Clean and Mr. Potato Head ever hang out together?

Since the 1920s, advertising has continued to grow: there are more products to buy than ever before, and more ways to advertise them: think of the advertisements on the Internet!

Choices, choices: Daphne debates the fine points of potato chips

The problem is that advertisements sell ideas that aren't true, or might even be harmful. McDonald's Happy Meals won't make families happy. People don't need expensive cosmetics or clothes to be attractive. Smoking won't make you look cool or help you have fun with your friends - but it will hurt you!

Too many advertisements! I think I'm going to explode!

So next time an ad tells you that you need another product to look good or feel happy, STOP! Think about whether that's true, and about what will really make you feel good about yourself - maybe it's doing something instead of buying something.


Please email me at: neda@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephen - "You are now entering the Mall of America: You will never return!!!!"
Making A Difference - Does your community need a facelift?
Stephen - "Beans. I want more beans! And gimme some cars, too."