American ideals reinforced through advertisements
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The economic and housing boom that followed World War II paved the way for America to become the consumer-driven economy that it is today. These booms also created competition among companies, therefore leading to the aggressive use of advertisements which reinforced certain “American” ideals in order to sell products. The Civil Rights Movement and Cold War tensions led Americans to question the characteristics that embodied the term “American,” while events such as the passing of the G.I. Bill and the start of the Baby Boom enforced certain societal ideals. Advertisements during the mid-twentieth century preyed upon the uncertainty among citizens pertaining to their American citizenship, and illustrated companies’ desire to appeal to a specifically white, middle-class audience. They emphasized the “American” ideals of happily married couples, healthy families and babies, and cleanliness. The “scientific” claims that many companies, such as Listerine, used in their advertisements have since been proven by modern science as false, however, the ads share an overarching theme of only targeting and portraying white, happy people. Ideals embedded by advertisements during the mid-twentieth century heavily influenced American stereotypes and served as distractions from difficult times. By using the uncertainty regarding the definition of “Americanism,” companies relied on images and the psychological aspects of their advertisements to sell their products. In the process, they defined the stereotypical qualities that embodied the term “American,” many of which still exist today.
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