Dreaming Up the “American Dream”
Did you know?
In 1928, the advertising expert Albert Lasker developed the slogan, “Reach for a Lucky instead of a Sweet.” He began the association of cigarettes with slimness and beauty, with the principal selling idea of smoking as an aid to dieting and weight control. The Lucky Strike campaign contributed to a rise in sales from 13.7 billion cigarettes in 1925, when it was the third ranked brand, to over 40 billion in 1930, when it became the top-ranked brand.
While many relied on humor or fear to win over an audience, some ads adopted a more urbane and refined approach. Selling more than a product, they sold lifestyles–rich, young, beautiful, and wild. The following advertisement for Berkey & Gay, a high-end furniture store popular in the 1920s, raises the specter of a 1920s speakeasy. As rather the last gasp of the Progressive reform movement, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution forbade the sale and distribution of alcohol, but it never really worked. Many Americans simply ignored it, and few cities enforced it. Speakeasies were everywhere, and they drew men and women alike who came to drink, smoke, and dance to popular music derived from jazz. Read the following advertisement, and proceed to the exercise.
Advertisement for Berkey & Gay Furniture Company (1925)
Do they know Your son at MALUCIO’s?
There’s a hole in the door at Malucio’s. Ring the bell and a pair of eyes will look coldly out at you. If you are known you will get in. Malucio has to be careful.
There have been riotous nights at Malucio’s. Tragic nights, too. But somehow the fat little man has managed to avoid the law.
Almost every town has its Malucio’s. Some, brightly disguised as cabarets–others, mere back street filling stations for pocket flasks.
But every Malucio will tell you the same thing. His best customers are not the ne’er-do-wells of other years. They are the young people–frequently, the best young people of the town.
Malucio has put one over on the American home. Ultimately he will be driven out. Until then THE HOME MUST BID MORE INTELLIGENTLY FOR MALUCIO’S BUSINESS.
There are many reasons why it is profitable and wise to furnish the home attractively, but one of these, and not the least, is Malucio’s.
The younger generation is sensitive to beauty, princely proud, and will not entertain in homes of which it is secretly ashamed.
But make your rooms attractive, appeal to the vaulting pride of youth, and you may worry that much less about Malucio’s and the other modern frivolities that his name symbolizes.
A guest room smartly and tastefully furnished–a refined and attractive dining room–will more than hold their own against the tinsel cheapness of Malucio’s.
Nor is good furniture any longer a luxury for the favored few. THE PRESCOTT suite shown above, for instance, is a moderately priced pattern, conforming in every detail to the finest Berkey & Gay standards.
In style, in the selection of rare and beautiful woods, and in the rich texture of the finish and hand decorating, it reveals the skill of craftsmen long expert in the art of quality furniture making.
The PRESCOTT is typical of values now on display at the store of your local Berkey & Gay dealer. Depend on his showing you furniture in which you may take deep pride–beautiful, well built, luxuriously finished, and moderately priced.
There is a Berkey & Gay pattern suited to every home–an infinite variety of styles at prices ranging all the way from $350 to $6,000.
- This ad appeals to parental sensibilities and worries, but it also beckons the consumer to buy into a more stylish life–if not for themselves then for the sake of their teenage children. Do you like this ad? Why or why not?