Advertising, The Cold War, and Academic Writing.

Academic writing has never been my strongest skill. I never really put a lot of effort into it in high school or previous college classes, nor did I really do a lot of reading of academic works, so I was never exposed to it enough to really take anything away from them. But, it turns out I just wasn’t writing about the right things.

Two of the classes I’m taking for my final semester of college–Mass Communication Theory and Media in Society– require that I write a 12-15 page paper, but because they’re both taught by the same professor he’s allowing those of us taking both of his classes to write a 17-20 page paper that relates to both classes. There are a wide variety of topics about which we can write as well. Essentially, if it can somehow relate to communications, we can write about it. Be it social media, the media in general, video games, music, pretty much anything you can think of that deals with communicating or the dissemination of information.

Now, as some of you may know, I quickly fell in love with the show Mad Men. The pilot hooked me, and so did the setting. Characters who work at a marketing firm in the 1960s. It’s cool. It’s exciting and dramatic and I’ve recently taking a liking for marketing, so it just resonates with me really well.

This, of course, relates to my paper’s thesis, which is: Advertisements during the Cold War perpetuated the fear of communist invasion, how Americans viewed communism, and demonstrated how warfare and the military were becoming a larger part of domestic life.

It’s actually turning out to be pretty exciting. I’ll be analyzing five advertisements that were produced during the Cold War era, and applying the theoretical frameworks God and Devil terms and pseudo-environment, and applying a sort of blended historical framework showing past instances of how marketing affected consumers. (i.e. Rosie the Riveter during World War II sort of glamorized “men’s jobs” while the men were away at war to entice women to work them, and, in a way, blended military and domestic life.) The image above is another example of how advertising blended domestic and military life by saying that after the fight with communism is done–after America is done fighting the “good” fight–America will prevail, and the soldiers will come home and you can live in peace. “Total living” can be achieved. Communism already has a “devil term” associated with it, especially during this time in America, which could be a factor as to why it’s often seen as derogatory to be called a communist today. A more contemporary example: After the bombing of the Twin Towers in 2001, a “devil term” developed associating anyone of the Muslim faith as a terrorist that developed as a result of extreme patriotism, stereotypes, and fear in America. (If you get a chance, take some communication studies courses. They’re really eye-opening when it comes to how the media works, and why people react to the media the way they do.)

I’m having much more fun writing it than I thought I would, and as I continue to work on it throughout the semester, my professor and I are going to work toward polishing it enough for me to submit it to some conferences and hopefully get it published.


2 thoughts on “Advertising, The Cold War, and Academic Writing.

  1. Awesome topic! And, we are big Mad Men fans in this house!

    Since my Bachelor’s was heavily embedded in History and Political Science, I wrote many, many lengthy papers. At first I would procrastinate and then I would choose an interesting angle and get swept up by the research. It can be a lot of fun!

    • Thanks! Yes, Mad Men is SO good! Too bad the final season is coming up!

      And, yeah, this is the first paper I’ve ever actually enjoyed writing. The idea that my professor things it has potential to be published, or even presented at a conference where some people I’m citing might actually show up, makes it even more fun to write.

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