I believe that marketers and the people who consume marketing (that's everybody) need to know the history of the advertising industry and how we went from “Mad Men to Math Men” to quote Alexander Nix, former CEO of Cambridge Analytica.
There is so much more to this history than a bunch of Don Drapers clinking scotch glasses while they come up with pithy slogans. Marketing history intertwines with how politics and culture took shape over the last century. To understand marketing history is to understand ourselves. If you want the short version of this, check out this 3-minute TikTok I created last week.
For the full deep dive into the history of marketing, propaganda, and politics — from WWI, Edward Bernays, and the advent of public relations, to social media, the 2016 election, Trump, the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago that brought us to this moment in history — you'll want to listen to this full episode. Or read the essay version here.
This episode covers:
- How WWI propaganda legitimized the advertising industry;
- The irony of Americans declaring independence and then copying the British;
- That time in 1918 when the U.S. government institutionalized fake news;
- The one thing Rand Paul is right about (for all the wrong reasons);
- How public relations put the "truth" back in advertising;
- The not-so-funny story of where "snake oil salesmen" come from;
- What Nazi Germany learned from U.S. laws and leaders;
- The American banana propaganda that led to 36 years of civil war in Guatemala;
- How Facebook exploits the data of people who don't even use the platform;
- Why global corporations have more power than our individual governments