Saturday, March 27, 2010

Zenith TV ad, 1951

From Look Magazine, March 27, 1951, courtesy of the Duke Digital Archive. Bonus: a Jo Copeland dress is featured. It's a "Black Magic" original.

The ad is also notable for the way it engages the new technology of television, and tells us it is acceptable to socialize around the little screen at a dinner party. I would put this Zenith ad in the "aspirational" category--it's counting on us identifying with these glamorous men and women, and wanting what they have.

It's easy to deconstruct old advertisements, which seem obvious to us now. But today, it's more important than ever to step back and examine ads in glossy magazines, which appeal to us in so many subtle ways. What's behind the sell? What does the ad man want us to think about ourselves; how is he flattering us?
To read more about Jo Copeland, I highly recommend "Mommy Dressing: A Love Story, After a Fashion," by Copeland's daughter, Lois Gould. Heartbreaking. 


  1. I absolutely love her dress.

  2. I wonder what she has in her hand. Cigarettes? Her dress is also very interesting.

  3. I just took a closer look (click on picture) and I think it's an ashtray.

  4. oh wait, it's a remote control! I just read the text more closely. "From your easy chair, you press the little 'Lazy Bones' Remote Control in your palm. ..." I love the all caps for NOT ONE KNOB TO TOUCH! -- that must have been a horror to contemplate.

  5. I am looking at the dress in this ad... my daughter had a dress for a homecoming dance a few years ago that was very much like this, only it didn't have the darker color on the top. :-) So interesting how things come back in style.