Marshall McLuhan said that “advertising is the greatest art form of the twentieth century.” And it isn’t only of interest to business professionals (or comedians): It’s also studied closely by sociologists, historians, psychologists, and anthropologists, who use it to delve into our psyches.

If you ever want or need to study this subject from any angle—from the nostalgic to the scholarly—the Sheridan Libraries have a ton of resources to draw on. Do you want to:

Study advertising and media trends?

  • Where can I find an illustrated timeline of Chevrolet’s advertising history from its founding in 1911 to the present? Advertising Age Data Center! Register first (free), then move on to the Data Center itself. You’ll see drop-down tabs for browsing media statistics, reportage, ad industry job statistics, and much more.
  • Where can I find articles on what business scholars are saying about advertising? Business Research Guide Core Resources will do the job. Try a sample search in the ABI/Inform Complete database on “advertising AND trends,” limited to the U.S., published from 2010-2012.
  • How about if I’m interested in the sociological angle? Sociology Research Guide Core Resources will help you there. Try a sample simultaneous search in IBSS, PAIS, and Sociological Abstracts onadvertising trendsfor a preliminary view of what’s available, then search these resources individually for even more.

Browse through or look at past advertising campaigns of major companies?

Find out how much a major company spends on advertising by type of media?

  • Is Allstate’s spending on Spanish language TV advertising going up or down?  Once again, turn to the Ad Age Data Center’s “Marketer Trees 2011” report to see how the top companies spend their advertising budgets.
  • Red Books is another treasure trove of stats on companies’ advertising budgets.  Follow the link to the home page, point your cursor at the “Subscriber Area” tab at the top, and select “quick search” to get started.

And for a Madison-Avenue-style dessert, lose yourself for an hour in the Smithsonian Institution’s online “Advertising, Marketing, and Commercial Imagery Collections.”

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