Library Journal, Starred Review
Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist Melillo (public communication, American Univ.) narrates a riveting account of the Advertising (Ad) Council, founded in 1942, and its impact on U.S. history, from its inception as a public relations tool through contemporary public service announcements (PSAs).Melillo focuses on the effects and controversy surrounding classic advertisements whose objectives ranged from mobilizing women during World War II, selling atomic energy, and fighting crime and communism to supporting environmentalism and black colleges. Included are illustrations of iconic campaigns that make up the backbone of popular culture and ad history, as well as intriguing questions regarding how well the move from strict Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controls to self-regulation serves the public interest. The two-page epilog sketching the advantages and potential pitfalls of PSAs venturing into social media is excellent. Today’s students might find greater emphasis on new media and less of what could be dismissed as nostalgia for print and traditional television even more compelling and relevant. VERDICT Surpassing other treatments in articles, books, and sources cited in chapter notes, this work distinguishes itself by its breadth and by incisive commentary and analysis. A superlative history of public service advertising.—Elizabeth Wood, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OHKirkus Reviews
Prologue: A Brilliant Public Relations Move
1 What Is the Ad Council?
2 Advertising’s Gift to America
3 Smokey Bear: A More Complicated Character Than His Image Depicts
4 The Rosie Legend and Why the Ad Council Claimed Her
5 “A Keg of Dynamite and You’re Sitting on It”: The Manhattan Project Scientists Launch an Atomic Energy Campaign
6 The Struggle for Men’s Souls: An Anti-communist Crusade for Freedom Targets Americans
7 The Crying Indian: In America’s Debate over Garbage and Pollution, Does the Campaign Shift Responsibility from Corporations to Individuals?
8 Beyond Integration: Fighting for Historically Black Colleges
9 Fighting Back: McGruff Shows Americans How to Take a Bite Out of Crime
10 Public Service Ads and the Public Interest
Epilogue: Looking to the Future