Monday morning (Oct 24, 2011), I will be posting up the advertisement and a bibliography for the Info Age project. Sit tight!
As a Preamble to the Project
Before diving into the advertisement proper, I would like to give a hearty thanks to my fellow project members who have made this small project possible. Caitlin, Ashley, and Nicole put time into taking my notes and sources and creating a wonderful product, which mimics 1930s advertisements for weight-gaining supplements. As a note for process, Ashley crafted the text for the advertisement and looked closely at various examples in order to develop a proper sense of wording for the piece. Nicole spent a great deal of time selecting appropriate fonts and modifying the layout. Caitlin, being a photoshop wizard, worked most closely with the program and made wonderful use of a set of early family photos for our advertisement. Although I worked primarily on the research end of the project, their work and effort made the project concrete and tangible.
In considering where this piece goes into the master timeline seen here, I wrote an earlier blog post about this style of advertisement. We (the group members) consider a product that is not a part of the information age but exemplifies certain characteristics about advertising during that time to be worthy addition to the timeline. The ad fits best within the 1930s segment and carrying a post of its own, perhaps with a title of “Early 20th Century Advertising.” In clicking that post, viewers can readily see our work, which makes an excellent example of advertising from then. Unlike other posts that are directly related to the flow of information, this small footnote would encourage readers to think of advertising not for its message but rather as a medium itself.
The next question one might have is “Is this really part of the information age?” The advertisement here is just a bunch of flashy exclamation points and pictures. Why should weight-gaining products make into the info age? The information age is not only about the passing of ideas from one entity to the next, it is also about how one passes such information. In terms of advertising, the question one needs to ask is what other messages are being encoded into the advertisement? I perceive ads such as weight-gaining to be more than just an advertisement encouraging one to bulk up and become extra hunky. Rather, one can note that the ads represent certain norms, namely heterosexual relationships, muscles and a particular body shape being keys to attracting women, and just plain old, every male requires a relationship to function. The ad does not just promise a product that will allow the consumer to gain weight, but it also transfers biases and life perspectives.What we can see in these ads is a company attempting to shape readers in a particular way.
So was there something special about weight-gaining products that made them apt for mimicking, as opposed to say car wax or cigarettes? Weight-gaining ads were not hiding secret messages to overturn the government, nor did they present the transfer of biases and perspectives better than other products. Rather, we chose our product as a fun and interesting item that flies in the face of contemporary perspectives about body size. To speak more personally, few would take such an interest in purposefully gaining weight, unless it involved muscle growth. Thus, the product will most certainly grab the viewer’s attention as an interesting advertisement. One might even note that things such as body size and image are all matters of cultural norms and that different generations can have vastly different outlooks on being sexy and attractive.