AT&T’s Branded Entertainment, Present & Past

This summer AT&T’s reality show @summerbreak, filmed and edited as the summer progresses, returns for a second season to track the adventures of a group of Southern Californian teens. Back in the 1940s-50s, AT&T sponsored a very different radio and television program, The Bell Telephone Hour, featuring classical music and opera stars. Despite their obvious differences, the two…

Advertising as Education

Old ads look funny to us today in part because advertisers believed the purpose of ads was to educate consumers about the product. Direct hard sell didacticism resulted in repetitious ads, heavy with product attributes.  Today few ads include product information; most ads work by creating associations, such as with celebrities, making emotional appeals, or…

Advertainment

A recent advertising column by Stuart Elliott in the New York Times describes a new advertising strategy by the retailer Target. Characters from three different ABC situation comedies (Modern Family, The Middle, and Back in the Game) will appear in three different 30-second commercials giving each other gifts—from Target, of course. Having characters from different…

Live!

“We need to be in the event business,” claimed NBC executive Robert Greenblatt at the TCA press tour this week. “Live is really important these days in trying to fight the DVR and build the biggest audience you can.” NBC’s decision to shift toward more live programming is a logical step for a linear television…

Jazz Age Commercialism

Cliff Doerksen‘s book, American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age (2005), is still here, although he is not, and I hope more of us can learn from it. Doerksen writes about radio in the 1920s, before it was fully organized into oligopolistic national networks. Many other historians before him have been fascinated by that…