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The Man Who Invented Advertising

Albert Lasker, who moved the world of American advertising from simple informational announcements to what he called “salesmanship in print,” was born in Freiburg, Germany on this date in 1880. Lasker came to the U.S. as an infant, was raised in Galveston, Texas, and rose to head the Lord & Thomas Agency in Chicago by […]

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Building the Myth: Capitalism = Democracy

by George Salamon “[T]he liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the Democratic State itself.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt, address to Congress, 1938 WE REACHED that point years ago. A 2014 study by two political scientists concluded: “[O]ur analyses […]

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July 31: Joseph E. Levine Presents!

Film producer and distributor Joseph E. Levine, a one-man tycoon who brought shlok to America (Godzilla, Hercules, and other pulp movies) as well as sophisticated films (The Graduate, Two Women, a Bridge Too Far), died at 81 on this date in 1987. Levine was in the film business for less than three decades — he […]

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OpEdge: Mr. Potato Head and Cannibal Capitalism

by Marc Jampole ABOUT EIGHTEEN MONTHS ago, Frito-Lay introduced a TV ad in which animated versions of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head eat potato chips, knowing full well that they are indulging in cannibalism but reveling in the sin. In the original spot, Mr. Potato Head gets home from work and can’t find his wife […]

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From Moses to Mean Joe Greene

Our Changing Cultural Vocabulary by Marc Jampole IT SEEMS as if it were only yesterday that America first saw the heart-rendering TV commercial in which Mean Joe Greene, a professional football player from the 1970s, throws a jersey to a young boy who offered him a Coke. The commercial, first introduced in 1979, makes all […]

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February 22: The Spicy Meatball Photographer

Howard Zieff, a college dropout who learned photography while serving in the Navy and went on to create two of America’s most iconic advertising campaigns — “You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s,” and the Alka-Seltzer commercial in which an actor eats far too many spicy meatballs — died at 81 on this […]

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November 19: The King of Underwear

Calvin Klein, who built an empire of blue jeans and underwear using eroticized imagery of brawny young men and not-quite-of-age young women in his advertising, was born in the Bronx on this date in 1942. His father was a grocer; his grandmother taught him how to use a sewing machine. He attended the High School […]

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October 31: Bette Midler vs. Ford Motor Company

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit awarded Bette Midler $400,000 in her suit against Young & Rubicam, advertising agency for Ford Motor Company, on this date in 1989. Ford had been advertising its cars and trucks with television commercials using hit songs; when Young & Rubicam was unable to contract with […]

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It’s Not Just the Feds Who Wants to Spy on Us

The Obama Administration is rightfully taking a lot of hits for government surveillance programs that track data related to every phone call of every U.S. citizen, and for demanding data that the computers of Google, Apple, and other information technology companies collect from everyone. Now we’re learning that the government isn’t the only one that […]

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