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  • Editorial Introduction
  • Edward Timke and William M. O’Barr

2020 is the start of a crucial decade. It is one where cultural, political, and social rifts may mend and narrow or become even more pronounced and exacerbated. It is also a decade where climate change and many environmental problems may reach their point of no return to fix. There is no doubt that advertising and the forces of consumer society play a central role in all of these processes. Can advertising messages counter various cultural, political, and social divisions? Can the advertising industry promote more environmentally sustainable business and consumption practices? In its 20th year of publication and beyond, Advertising & Society Quarterly (ASQ) will face questions like these head-on through a continued assessment of advertising's past, present, and future relationship to society, culture, history, and the economy.

When the journal was founded as Advertising & Society Review in 2000, we were not sure where the journal would take us as the world entered a new, uncertain millennium. Twenty years later, ASQ remains stronger than ever. The journal is currently ranked 10th in usage out of the 109 social science journals in Project MUSE, and is in the top 4th percentile of all 704 Project MUSE journals. We have come a long way since our first issue showcased 25 classic advertising and society articles establishing the journal's mission: "… to examine the role of advertising in society, culture, history, and the economy in the United States as well as in other cultures and nations, in the past, present, and future."1

Since our foundation, the journal has remained true to its original interdisciplinary focus by engaging in the marketplace of ideas about advertising. We have published scholars and popular writers with strong criticisms of advertising, as well as practitioners advocating for advertising's positive contributions. By publishing a wide range of perspectives from many disciplines, the journal does not wish to force readers to arrive at particular answers. Rather, we want to encourage readers to examine advertising through different lenses to ask more and tougher questions of the advertising industry as well as ourselves in a consumer-based society.

ASQ has also striven to be the bridge between academia and the advertising industry by publishing interviews with advertising leaders, and roundtables where academics and practitioners meet to discuss pressing issues of the day. If all of us who are so invested in understanding advertising do not sit at the same table to talk to one another, important connections and significant changes cannot be made. This issue's interview features Kat Gordon (3% Movement) talking about equity and inclusion in advertising. Our most recent roundtable examines how audiences interpret and react to advertising messages.

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Fig 1.

Kat Gordon (3% Movement) Talks about Equity and Inclusion in Advertising in an Interview by Jean Grow (Marquette University).2

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Fig 2.

This Issue's Roundtable of Advertising Scholars and Practitioners Explores How We Can Understand Audience Interpretations of Advertisements.

To commemorate our 20th anniversary, and to showcase the journal's continued role in reflecting on the evolving state of advertising, we have asked several leading scholars to write reflective pieces this year under a new article category we are calling Key Moments in Advertising. Such articles will contemplate the state or place of advertising through a few sample ads and a particular perspective, such as gender, technology, politics, and race and ethnicity. To start us off in this issue, Jennifer Scanlon (Bowdoin College) examines women in advertising over the last hundred years. By using a handful of important advertisements—Woodbury Soap's "A Skin You Love to Touch" (first appearing in 1911), Madam C. J. Walker's skin and hair care product ads for Black women (1920s), and several ads from today featuring women athletes of color—Scanlon illustrates how advertising has presented tremendous professional opportunities for women, while at the same time confining women to particular roles and standards of beauty.

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Fig 3.

In This Issue, Jennifer Scanlon (Bowdoin College) Uses These Three Ads to Reflect on the State of Advertising Over...

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