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SPANK WHILE YOU SELL:
Corporal punishment imagery in print advertising

By C. Farrell



In recent times some social historians have taken to interpreting a given time and place in terms of its advertising. Are the creative directors of advertising agencies, who are hardly typical citizens, really the people who most have their fingers on the pulse of a society? And if so, are they merely reflecting the society back at itself, or do their activities themselves help to change the collective perception?

At all events, it is certainly true that advertisements can sometimes -- perhaps unintentionally -- be revealing about how particular concepts are viewed and how they might relate to the contemporary zeitgeist in a particular culture.

And the concept of corporal punishment is no exception. In this feature we look at 15 US and UK press advertisements in which CP is pictured. What are they telling us about the attitudes of the period, and the place of CP in popular culture?

Click on each title in turn to see the advertisement in full and read the commentary. They are in roughly chronological order:

thumbnail 19th century: Power & Stuart Tobacco


thumbnail c.1900?: Atwood & Brigham's Chop and Oyster Café


thumbnail 1937: Post Office Speaking Clock


thumbnail 1945: Borden's Hemo Food Supplement


thumbnail 1940s: Ivory Bath Soap


thumbnail 1940s: Fletcher's Castoria Children's Laxative


thumbnail 1940s: Fletcher's Castoria Children's Laxative (again)


thumbnail 1948: Shinola Shoe Polish


thumbnail 1950s: Sanka Decaffeinated Coffee


thumbnail 1954: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company


thumbnail c.1960: Havoline Motor Oil


thumbnail 1960: European Cars


thumbnail 1960s: Cheez-It Cheese Crackers


thumbnail 1997: King of the Hill


thumbnail 2000: Virgin Megastores


See also:
Supplementary page 1 with 12 further images.
Supplementary page 2 with 5 further images and two video clips
.




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