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by Jeffrey F. Rayport, Bernard J. Jaworski
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Contact Ken Custer at 303-277-9840.

The All-American Ad Series

This page is both a review and an ad. I stumbled across the fifties volume of this set, and was so overwhelmed by it that I immediately got on Amazon and bought seven of the eight volumes. You've got to see this set to believe it.

The All-American Ads series published by Taschen is the most comprehensive collection of American graphic advertising ever produced. Grand in scope, and beautifully printed in lavish full color, this set should be owned by anyone in love, or otherwise engaged, with graphic advertising.

Editor Jim Hineman has done a fine job with the series. The ads are organized by subject matter, and the categories change as the decades dictate. For instance, the sixties volume has a big section on electronics, a category lacking in earlier decades. Overall, this series does a better job of documenting American history than most history books.

I once spent an evening counting and classifying the ads in every National Geographic printed in the fifties, noticing things like the first National Geographic in 1950 had maybe a dozen ads for trains, and just a few for airlines. By the last issue of 1959, there were many ads for airlines, but hardly any for trains. At the time, I thought the topic worthy of a college term paper. This set of books is good for a doctorate. Much of the social history of America's last century is written in the advertising in these books.

Note: If you plan on buying the full set at your local book store, better take a hand truck, because you're going to need it.

Available through Amazon
cover All American Ads from 1900 to 1919
Jim Heimann - 640 pages soon

A far cry from the aggressive ads we've become used to, American print advertisements from the first two decades of the 20th century were almost shockingly pleasant. Intricately designed and beautifully illustrated, often in the art nouveau style popular at the time, four-color, full-page magazine advertisements were welcome respites from the bland, text-filled pages among which they appeared.
cover All American Ads of the 20s
Jim Heimann - 512 pages

Taschen's legendary decade-by-decade chronicle of American advertising hits a high point in the book on the 1920s. Its hundreds of coruscatingly colorful Jazz Age advertisements, superbly reproduced on practically bulletproof paper, add up to an irresistible question: why stay this side of paradise when the new consumer culture can send you to heaven right now?
cover All American Ads of the 30s
Jim Heimann - 768 pages

In contrast to the depression the ads of the thirties present an optomistic view of life, and not surprisingly the hard sell emerges. The quality of the artwork substantially improves over previous decades, and so does the verbose copy. People had time to read then, and it shows in the ads.
cover All American Ads of the 40s
Jim Heimann - 764 pages

Like a pop-cultural walk through time, All-American Ads of the 40s covers the breadth of print ads from the World War II era. As one might expect, the ads look very different from ads today. Most are illustrated, and even the selling of innocuous products like candy bars taps into public interest number one, the war.
cover All American Ads of the 50s
Jim Heimann - 928 pages

All-American Ads of the 50s offers page after page of products that made up the happy-days decade. The start of the cold war spurred a buying frenzy and a craze for new technology that required ad campaigns to match. The nuclear age left its mark all over the advertisements, with a spotlight on planes, rockets, and even mushroom clouds.
cover All American Ads of the 60s
Jim Heimann - 960 pages

With the consumerist euphoria of the fifties still going strong and the race to the moon at its height, the mood of advertising in the sixties was cheerful, optimistic, and at times, revolutionary. The decade's ads touted perceived progress (such as tang and instant omelets-"just add water") while striving to reinforce good old American values.
cover All American Ads of the 70s
Jim Heimann - 701 pages

Both eclipsed and influenced by television, American print ads of the 1970s departed from the bold, graphic forms and subtle messages that were typical of their sixties counterparts. More literal, more in-your-face, 70s ads sought to capture the attention of a public accustomed to blaring, to-the-point TV commercials (even VW ads, known for their witty, ironic statements and minimalist designs, lost some of their punch in the 1970s).
cover All American Ads of the 80s
Jim Heimann - 640 pages

As editor Jim Heimann says in his short introduction, print creativity wasn't exactly sparkling in the Eighties. Television took most of the ad budget leaving print to soak up what was left with ads that reinforced what had been seen on the small screen. Still, some ads did capture the consumer's imagination, do you remember 'The united colors of Benetton', 'Just do it' for Nike, Maxell cassettes, Swatch and Absolut vodka campaigns?

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