Advertising is a deeply pervasive part of all lives lived in consumerist economies. The average individual in Western society is bombarded with several hundred adverts per day -- billboards, TV commercials, film trailers and product placement in films, Internet ads, radio blurbs, newspaper and magazine ads, and more. Advertising both is a kind or popular culture, and it is a major way that we learn about and learn how to interpret other kinds of popular culture. Film trailers, for instance, not only seek to sell their cinematic product, but they also hope to shape the way we think about the movie. Advertising is a major mode of socialization, telling us how to think and feel (what's hip, what's sexy, what's normal), and what problems we need to worry about (lack of the latest e-gadget, insufficiently white teeth, mammary magnitude, etc.).
Advertising is as old as commercial popular culture, and viewing older ads can tell us a great deal about past eras and our own. One thing revealed by studying older ads is the ways in which aesthetic styles change over time. Fro example, it is clear once avant garde techniques become domesticated over time such that some shocking bit of 1930 surrealism is now seamlessly accepted into an ad for a mainstream cleaning product or automobile. Or note how, on the one hand most advertising has become less verbal and more visual free association, while on the other hand the rise of the mute button has led to an increasing amount of written language in TV adsMcDonald's maintains an extensive advertising campaign. In addition to the usual media including television, radio, and newspaper ads, the company makes