This talk centers on The Real Mad Men of Advertising (2017), the Smithsonian Channel’s four-episode documentary series on the history of advertising after World War II through the 1980s. Advertising historians meet with the film’s producer to discuss how each episode takes up one decade after World War II and the prominent themes and issues in culture and society that advertising worked through at the time. Discussion topics include how and why the series was organized chronologically, the importance of using material objects in telling advertising history, what the series reveals about advertisers’ relationships with audiences over time, the series’ use of the Smithsonian Institution’s collections, the use of historical reenactments and footage, and possibilities for future documentaries on advertising.

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