The Subsiding Sizzle of Advertising History: Methodological and Theoretical Challenges in the Post Advertising Age

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    Purpose – This paper aims to provide an overview over the development of historical research into advertising from the early twentieth century. Its main purposes are to interest marketing scholars and business historians in the history of advertising, help scholars that are unfamiliar with the field in choosing an appropriate theoretical and methodological angle, and provide a critique of a range of methods and theoretical approaches being applied in advertising historical research.

    Design/methodology/approach – The research design of this paper is based on historiographical analysis and method critique. It surveys the advertising historical literature of the three decades between 1980 and 2010, and it compares and contrasts dominant research methodologies and theoretical paradigms that have been used by historians and advertising researchers.

    Findings – Much advertising historical research is based on a specific set of theoretical paradigms (“Modernization”, “Americanization”, and “Semiotics”), without being aware of the manifest impact they have on the narratives and understandings that historians create. Identifying these paradigms and outlining their impact will help marketing historians and advertising researchers to avoid the pitfalls associated with particular paradigms.

    Originality/value – This paper subjects the modern historiography of advertising to a methodological and narratological analysis. It uses this analysis to propose new and somewhat more critical directions in advertising historical research.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Historical Research in Marketing
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)528-548
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Methodology
    • Narratology
    • Semiotics
    • Marketing History
    • Advertising Research
    • History of Ideas
    • Creative Thinking
    • Advertising
    • Narratives

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