'Truth in Advertising': The Impossible Dream?

University of Queensland
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Media International Australia incorporating Culture & Policy, 2006, 119 (1), pp. 124 - 137
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For an industry that deals with the public perception of images, it perhaps ironic that advertising itself has long suffered from a severe image problem. The industry has long been equated with exaggerations, distortions and falsities. Critics and the industry alike have looked to the possibility of truth in advertising to redeem its reputation. The discourse of truth in advertising that occurred in the advertising industry ranks during the early twentieth century provides a revealing insight into the way that the `magic system of advertising has been constructed. Reaching a high point in the 1920s, concerns about truth would recede over the course of the 1930s and 1940s as the industry moved to embrace new forms of technology. By examining the rise and fall of this discourse, this paper reveals the advertising industrys fervent desire to improve advertisings status whilst illustrating the way in which technological developments not only affected the industry, but also its ability to ever be completely truthful.
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