Advertising: The Magic System


Examine a political advertising or marketing campaign you are familiar with through the lens provided by Raymond Williams in his essay, “Advertising: The Magic System.” Pay particular attention to the following passage, and the reasoning provided for it: There is an obvious continuity between the techniques and methods used to sell pills and washballs in the eighteenth century (‘promise, large promise, a quality truly wonderful’) and the methods used in the twentieth century used to sell anything from a drink to a political party. In this sense, it is true to say all commerce has followed the quack.” Is he correct in his assessment of modern advertising techniques as they are exemplified in the campaign you have chosen? How have the tactics evolved? (Williams alludes to the growing sophistication of techniques in the postwar period after this quote) Have they been rejected? Explain.

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