ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Power Of Television

Updated on June 4, 2019
James A Watkins profile image

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with three non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

The Golden Age of Television & the Rise of Madison Avenue

America entered into an astonishing age of abundance in the 1950s. The invention of kitchen and household appliances freed women from housework for the first time. This freedom eventually led to boredom for some women, and they would launch the feminist movement in the next decade.

By 1960, virtually every American home had a refrigerator. Four million of them were purchased for $1.3 billion in 1955 alone. So many were sold that year because of the mass production of frozen food—old-style refrigerators had tiny freezers.

A revolution in advertising and selling kitchen appliances took place in the Fifties. It is best symbolized by the Lady from Westinghouse: Betty Furness. She had been a film ingénue whose career was winding down after thirty-six B movie parts.

At the age of thirty-three, Betty Furness was hired by Westinghouse in 1949 to star in television commercials. Soon, corporate America would come to understand the power of television to shape behavior.

SNOW ON TELEVISION
SNOW ON TELEVISION
BETTY FURNESS
BETTY FURNESS

Betty Furness

Betty Furness was hired to deliver one three-minute commercial and two one-and-a-half-minute commercials on the weekly television drama series Studio One, for which Westinghouse was the lone sponsor. Her $150 a week starting salary was quite good for 1949. The commercials changed constantly and were aired live, meaning the lines had to be memorized.

Betty proved to be outstanding at her new job. She was attractive in a way that did not make women viewers jealous. Betty came across as bright, confident, upbeat, and modern—but not overly glamorous. She exemplified the all-American wife in an all-American kitchen: a sparkling new workplace that made household chores easy.

During the televised 1952 political conventions, she became a famous celebrity. Westinghouse bought nearly all the available airtime for commercials, and soon she was in America's homes more than twenty times a day for a week.

Betty intuited that her role was to keep viewers from leaving the room during commercial breaks. She determined to change clothes for each commercial to stay interesting and unpredictable. Housewives were glued to their sets to see what Betty would wear next. She wore her own clothes because she did not want Westinghouse to dictate her wardrobe—which was always neat and sophisticated but also modest.

THE LADY FROM WESTINGHOUSE
THE LADY FROM WESTINGHOUSE
BETTY FURNESS (LIFE MAGAZINE)
BETTY FURNESS (LIFE MAGAZINE)

The Lady From Westinghouse

The sales of Westinghouse appliances shot through the roof because of Betty Furness. Her trademark phrase was heard at the end of each commercial: "You can be sure if it's Westinghouse."

She began to be recognized wherever she went. Total strangers started to think of her as their friend. To them, she was just Betty—no last name was necessary since she had been in their homes.

In June of 1952 Betty pitched a new item, the $89 Mobilair fan. It was a large awkward fan, mounted on wheels, that could blow air in or suck it out. She didn't think it would sell, but the very day her commercials aired the Mobilair sold out in stores across America.

Betty was now the queen of American appliances and Westinghouse signed her to an exclusive three-year contract for $100,000 a year. She didn't know much about the machines except they were well made; they kept getting larger; and Americans loved them.

The only flop Westinghouse had that was presented by Betty in her eleven year run as spokeswoman was the dishwasher. Surprised and disappointed, Westinghouse commissioned extensive research that discovered women were afraid dishwashers might make them obsolete in the kitchen, and men might decide they didn't need wives.

The Mad Men on Madison Avenue

Revenues from television commercials totaled $12 million in 1949. By 1951 it was ten times that sum. Television could do what print ads and radio could never do: show the product being used.

Advertising men who worked in New York on Madison Avenue were pulling down $300,000 to $400,000 a year by the end of the Fifties—real money back then. The ad men referred to themselves as 'Mad Men.'

In his amazing 1958 book People of Plenty, Yale historian David Potter wrote: "Advertising now compares with such long-standing institutions as the school and the church in the magnitude of its social influence. It dominates the media, it has vast power in the shaping of popular standards, and it is really one of the very limited groups of institutions which exercise social control."

The power of television made the sizzle as important as the steak. Corporate budgets changed drastically as engineering and manufacturing took a backseat to marketing and sales.

THE ORIGINAL MARLBORO MAN
THE ORIGINAL MARLBORO MAN

Enter the Marlboro Man

In 1954, the most influential magazine in the United States, Reader's Digest, published an article that for the first time alerted the public to a link between smoking cigarettes and dying of lung cancer. This could not have come at a worse time for the Philip Morris Tobacco Company. It had made a substantial investment in the launch of new filter-tip cigarettes for women called Marlboro.

Sensing that women might cut back on smoking, the company decided to push the Marlboro brand to men, too. But filter cigarettes had already been marketed as a woman's product—Real Men would never smoke them. Philip Morris hired the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago to solve the conundrum because Burnett had become famous for inventing the Jolly Green Giant and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

To make Marlboro masculine, Burnett brainstormed what was the manliest symbol in America and decided it was the cowboy. The runner-up was the tattoo. Burnett also suggested turning the color of the package to a strong red. The first ad with a craggy-faced cowboy ran in 1955 and touted Marlboro's "man-sized flavor." It was an immediate and enormous success. Suddenly, Real Men DID smoke filter cigarettes.

The Jolly Green Giant
The Jolly Green Giant
PILLSBURY DOUGHBOY
PILLSBURY DOUGHBOY

The Power of Television to Influence Us

The power of television changed marketing forever. No longer was it about what people need but what they should want to keep up with their neighbors. No longer would Americans only purchase what was essential, what was necessary. From now on they would buy more and more luxury items—as seen on TV.

The new American would also break another taboo of their parents and grandparents: they would buy on credit. Automobiles were already available for ever-lengthening credit periods and the day would come when "buy now pay later" became an American mantra.

The task of the advertiser, according to one of the first and most influential motivational research experts, Ernest Dichter, "is to give moral permission to have fun without guilt."

Dichter was a pioneer in exploring the complicated subconscious psychological reasons by which people justify the choices they make. His research concluded that to persuade people to make the choice you want them to make you must "resolve the conflict between pleasure and guilt."

Dichter's theme is that when a new level of gratification is offered, it must be offered along with assuaging the target's guilt, what he termed an "offer of absolution."


My source for this article is the book The Fifties by David Halberstam.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Michael Milec— Thank you so much, my friend, for your deep and penetrating words. I have savored them over and over again. You stated the truth so well that you left me not much I can say in response other than: "Wow! You really get it!"

      I appreciate your accolades, affirmation, encouragement, and blessings more than you could possibly imagine, Brother. You truly lift my spirit and inspire me in my work.

      I am grateful that you read my articles and send me such nice notes, as well as, of course, the voted up and interesting. :)

      No, it is not only you seeing this gloomy picture. I see it too.

      God Bless You!

      James

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Rolly Chabot--- Hello, my friend. It is a distinct pleasure to hear from you. It has been a while. I hope your book is going well. And that life is good up there where you live, which is truly God's Country. :D

      I appreciate the visit and the hugs and the gracious compliment.

      God Bless You!

      James

    • profile image

      Michael Milec 

      6 years ago

      The Power of Television , a lost Nation. That's my conclusion after reading your plainly explained proces of degradation people's integrity and morality ... s t I l l in progress . TV didn't do it. The people gave up to increase in personal knowledge what is good for them or better for their children , without consideration, a choice was made irresponsibly spending , replacing what was good, for newer unnecessarily ; never ending sad economic destruction our present state of being .

      Is it only me? Seing this gloomy picture? Or this is because of living right through these changes .

      You my friend are such a positive voice of telling the truth, please do more, write more, post and repost your articles, there is still hope, even though the evening of the present social system announcing night.

      Up & interesting .

      God bless you my brother.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi James... well done as always and a reminder of where we have come from. As kids to begin with we only had 4 hours of television to begin with. We would sit and watch the test pattern ion waiting.... lol

      Hugs from Canada

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Mikeg422— Welcome to the HubPages Community! Thank you for taking the time to read my article on the Power of Television. I appreciate your excellent and witty remarks and kind compliments.

      Yes, Betty Furness was a looker, a sharp dresser, a class act, and a great pitchwoman. Your keen observations are no cause for shame, my friend.

      I look forward to reading some more of your Hubs, which I shall tend to soon. I even made myself a note to do so. Thanks again, and you are welcome.

      James :D

    • Mikeg422 profile image

      Michael Gill 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Great Hub James, I am ashamed however that with all of the insightful information you gave (usually the first thing I would bite on is how television in fact now controls the American public down to their very opinions), but this time I just have to make the crude remark of...I would love to have Betty in my kitchen, or anywhere else in my house, no wonder she was so successful, the women respected her, and when men saw the advertissments they probably thought "Well at least I can picture my wife looking like that when she is using it." Lol thanks man great job.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Randy Godwin— I think we are witnessing one of the side effects of having 500 channels worth of content on television—talent spread much much thinner. Just like when professional sports leagues expand and add more teams?

      Anyway, thanks for coming back by and I hope your day is fabulous.

      James

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Wow! Four channels would have been a dream come true for me when I was a child. But then, I'm a few decades older than you, I imagine. And yes, we are now jaded by the amount of options available in TV viewing. Not sure it's such a good thing after all! Have a great day!

      Randy

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Randy Godwin— Thank you very much for taking the time to read one my favorites of my own Hubs. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      We only had 4 channels when I was a lad. But it seemed I always find could something worthwhile to watch then more than I can today with 500 channels! :D

      I surely appreciate the visit and your excellent remarks. Always good to hear from you.

      James

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Ha! A walk back in time for me, James! My dad was the first to purchase a TV in our neck of the woods. I remember all of these great innovations in advertising and especially the commercials you've used in this hub.

      Only one channel at first, but then we had 2 a few years later. I thought I was in heaven!! LOL! Enjoyed!

      SSSSS

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Gracefulwriter— You are most welcome. I enjoyed the programs that you mentioned and have seen them countless times.

      Thank you for reading my Hub. I appreciate your comments. I love your profile picture and enjoyed your profile page, too. :-)

    • Gracefulwriter profile image

      Gracefulwriter 

      7 years ago from Northern Virginia

      I love television and I love reminescing about its Golden Era. I mostly watch Beaver & Lucy & Dick Van Dyke anyway. Thanks for the trip through my life. Thanks for following my Hub.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Wesman Todd Shaw— Thank you for the link to that video. I watched it and it is quite interesting. There is some truth to what he says.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I don't know if this would be classified as "objective" or not due to some comments in the opening lines, but Alan Watt is a really well known philosopher/scientist.

      In any case, if you're interested, take some of this with a grain of salt:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sWjkpLaQww

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Wesman Todd Shaw— I think television itself is a neutral piece of technology. Most of the programs on it lean toward a presentation of evil as good.

      I am a huge film buff, but I rent those. Other than news and baseball, I have not watched much TV in the last 40 years. I loved it when I was a boy but the shows were far different then.

      Thank you, my friend, for visiting and commenting.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I just don't watch those things....except for my Texas Rangers Baseball, which I'm pretty obsessive about.

      I just ...totally hate the way my parents spend their entire evenings watching tv. I think of it as pure mind rot and corporate control.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      itakins— Thank you! I appreciate the compliments. The dishwasher bit struck me too. I am glad you enjoyed this piece. :)

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 

      7 years ago from Irl

      Brilliant article James -really fascinating and engaging also..I love the bit about the dishwasher,kind of poignant ,but funny too!Well done.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      adomcruze— Thank you for coming to visit. I appreciate your thoughtful remarks.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      grandmapearl— You had a Grandma Pearl too!? Well, how about that! Awesome. We surely have something in common there. :D

      Grandmas are great. True words. I'm not sure anybody has ever truly loved me as much as my two grandmas. I hadn't thought of that until just now.

    • adomcruze profile image

      Adom Cruze 

      7 years ago

      your writing enticing me. so you tried a bit to define the America growth in tech. Nice oriented but it's few.

      Keep it up. LOL

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      7 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi James, I am sorry about your Grandma Pearl, but glad she had a very long and good life. My Grandma Pearl was 88 when she died. Her favorite dish for us was roast beef hash with fried potatoes! Grandmas are great, aren't they!

      Neverland sounded like such a great place! Someplace you never have to grow up!

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      grandmapearl— You are quite welcome. I smiled when I saw your handle. I lost my own Grandma Pearl a few years ago. She was in her 90s though and had lived a good long life. Anytime she knew I was coming over a skillet full of fried taters would be waiting for me, which she knew to be my favorite food. :-)

      I am glad I was able to bring back so many great memories for you.

      I loved Peter Pan. I wanted to BE Peter Pan.

      Thank you for coming by to check out my Hub. I appreciate your warm words.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Dolores Monet— Hello! Your husband is right. That book is chock full of great stuff that could be condensed into fine Hubs. It is one of my favorite books. In it, I get a real feel for what made America great in the postwar years.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. It is always a pleasure to "see" you. :)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Sueswan— Hello there!

      Thank you very much for your kind compliments, as well as the voted up and awesome. I enjoyed reading your fine comments as well.

      Like you, I grew up watching Johnny Carson. But I did not know that "the last cigarette commercial was for Virginia Slims. It was shown on Johnny Carson, January 1, 1971."

      Interesting tidbit there, Sue.

      I also was unaware that "Betty Furness was a correspondent for NBC news from 1974 to 1992 and was one of the first consumer affairs reporters."

      Fascinating. You have educated me! :-)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Peggy W— I am glad you enjoyed this Hub, and that it brought back fond memories for you.

      As you noted so wisely, "if a politician does not look good [on television] . . . odds are great that he or she will not get elected.

      This was demonstrated so well in the Nixon/Kennedy debates of 1960. A lot of Americans did not yet have TV. The vast majority of people who did see the debate on TV thought Kennedy the hands down winner but those who heard it on the radio thought Nixon won handily. Kennedy was far more photogenic.

      You are right that television programs were clean back then and a good influence on the young. A dark spiritual force saw this as a great path by which to spread malevolence.

      I loved the old test pattern! :-)

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      7 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      This brings back so many great memories! I still remember the iconic music behind the Marlboro man. Betty Furness was the universal housewife of the day. I could relate to her even at that young age, because she reminded me a lot of my own Mom. One of the first programs that sticks in my memory was "Peter Pan" because I got to stay up late for that one! Thanks for this great Hub.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      b. Malin— Yes, I was aware that the original Marlboro Man died of lung cancer.

      The first program I ever watched on television that I remember was "The Wizard of Oz." I must have been about three. But I never forget it and exactly where I was, at my cousin Johnny's house on the floor.

      I am glad you enjoyed my Hub. Thanks for coming! :D

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Alastar Packer— Yes, I have seen the Desilu commercials you mentioned. In fact, I almost embedded one in this Hub.

      I was a wee lad in the 50s but what I remember is a good feeling, that all was right and safe in the world. I had a completely different feeling by about 1970.

      I honestly think the Fifties might have been the peak of America's history, all things considered.

      Well, thank you, my friend, for reading my article and corresponding with me. Until next time. :D

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi, James - we have that book and my husband suggested that I dig into it for hub source material. You beat me to it! Amazing the power of TV!

      I remember those old refrigerators with the tiny freezers. The worse thing about them was that you had to defrost them. The best thing about them is that you still run across one now and then. People still keep them in the basement to store sodas for parties, etc. I love to see one that still works.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 

      7 years ago

      Hi James

      Great hub. I read that the last cigarette commercial was for Virginia Slims. It was show on the Johnny Carson, January 1, 1971. I grew up watching Johnny.

      Betty Furness was a correspondent for NBC news from 1974 to 1992 and was one of the first consumer affairs reporters.

      Voted up and awesome

      Have a good day.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I remember those old commercials well. I even remember the test patterns as the TV's were warming up and getting ready to broadcast those early shows. There were hardly any bad shows back then. No need for PG warnings. Too bad things have gone so far the other direction.

      As to the influence of TV...now if a politician does not look good and speak well on TV...odds are great that he or she will not get elected. That...and of course the money it takes to get air time...amazing!

      Enjoyed this hub. Brought back memories. :)

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      Fun, Fun Hub James...TV Memory Lane...Who doesn't remember that First TV when we were kids... And I say, growing up in the 50's was Fun! Even the Commercials were...

      Did you know that eventually the "Marlboro Man" died of Cancer! And made a TV commercial about it just before he died.

    • profile image

      alstar packer 

      7 years ago

      This was a treat learning about Betty Furness. Heard the name but that was about it. Have you ever seen any of the Desilu commercials for Westinghouse James? As a teenager the 50s were so uncool but nowadays they have a charm all their own. And who can forget the Jolly Green Giant- ho ho ho, Green Giant. Enjoyed the trip back and the breakdown on the tv ads too my friend.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Genna East— Thank you! I will confess to having watch quite a bit of "Madmen" myself. Great program.

      Some of the commercials today are quite amusing.

      I appreciate you stopping by to see my article. I enjoyed your comments. It is good to hear from you again. :)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Lone Ranger— Your followup comments are extraordinary.

      As you said so succinctly, "The invention itself consisting of cables, wires, plastic, glass, and metal, may be neutral, but the T.V. executives responsible for television programming are not."

      Thank you for enlightening me that "Bill Clinton said that he wanted Hollywood to rewrite the script for the American family."

      I had not heard about that.

      M.T.V. is the absolute worst purveyor of filth; it is subversive. If it were a foreign nation its programs would be considered an act of war upon our youth.

      You wisely noted, "A guy cannot even watch sports without commercials bombarding him with images of alchohol and sex."

      That is true.

      And I agree wholeheartedly with this that you wrote:

      "I think the moral ratio is probably somewhere near 80% bad/evil/immoral, 15% neutral, and 5% good."

      Thank you, L.R., for your remarks and you are welcome.

      JAW

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Jackie Lynnley— You ask a very good question. I can see television sort of disappearing into computers/the internet. I don't watch anything on my computer that I can see on TV.

      I am glad I was able to bring back some good memories for you. I remember those really tall towers most folks had next to the houses, unless their antenna was mounted on the roof.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. :)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Tamarajo— Thank you for the laudations!

      I share with you this sentiment: "I wish current programming had the same creativity and intelligence."

      I am glad you enjoyed my article. And yes, the concepts of Ernest Dichter are eye-opening, or should be anyway: The key he claimed is to "Resolve the conflict between pleasure and guilt."

      A whole lot of that has been done ever since, I can tell you that.

      I always appreciate your visits and I always enjoy reading your discerning remarks.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Good hub, Jim, and a very interesting peak into the 50'+. One of the few series I actually watch on television is AMC's "Mad Men," which begins at the end of the 50's. Television advertising was truly beginning to take off.

      I only wish we saw a little less of advertising on television today; although some of them are very creative and clever (AMEX Smile ad which is no longer aired), others are too loud and obnoxious.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Levertis Steele— Was!?

      Just kidding. :D

      Really, you liked the commercials even back then? That is not uncommon these days. A lot of the commercials now are great. I loved the old Westerns too; Bonanza, the Maverick, & Gunsmoke especially.

      My grandmother Pearl called her refrigerator a "frigidaire" until she died in her 90s. And every time I would see her, see would fry me up some taters in an old iron skillet. And on my way out she would say, "Son, prayer is the keynote to heaven!"

      Thank you for your comments. You are most welcome. :)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      GmaGoldie— Thank you, my friend, for the gracious compliments and your ongoing encouragement. I very much appreciate this visitation from you, as well as your fine comments. :-)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Kelly Kline Burnett— You are most welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I am glad I brought back some fond memories for you of growing up by the Green Giant plant. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

      James

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 

      7 years ago

      My friend, James, wrote, "Television itself is neutral, of course, but it is powerful and can be and is used for good and for evil.

      -----------------

      Indeed. The invention itself consisting of cables, wires, plastic, glass, and metal, may be neutral, but the T.V. executives responsible for television programming are not. In fact, Bill Clinton said that he wanted Hollywood to rewrite the script for the American family.

      M.T.V. (Music Television) used to be fun to watch way back in the 1980's, but then they changed their format to black gansta rap, hip hop, and shows like "Jersey Shores". When asked why, they stated that it was done to direct social change.

      Of course both good and bad can be found on the "idiot box", but I believe the bad far outweighs the good and it's the bad that can scar a person for life.

      Truth be known, I do not think there is much good to be found on the boob tube. I think the moral ratio is probably somewhere near 80% bad/evil/immoral, 15% neutral, and 5% good. A guy cannot even watch sports without commercials bombarding him with images of alchohol and sex.

      Best wishes and thank you for this fine Hub - L.R.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      poetvix— You are most welcome, my friend. I love the way you put that: "Betty's little baby has become a monster."

      Ha! Indeed.

      As you said we are inundated with advertising these days. I am well pleased to read that you enjoy my work. Thank you for your kind compliments.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Lee B— Amazing that you were related to C.L. Long, the original Marlboro Man, who as you say died of lung cancer. I thought that cigarette looked hand-rolled too! :-)

      I appreciate the visit. Thank you for sharing that with us.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Derdriu— You are quite welcome. I thank you, Derdriu, for the voted up and hitting all the right buttons for me.

      I surely appreciate the lovely laudations, my dear. Yes, iconic images were carefully selected and the ones that worked demonstrated the power of television to induce actions on the part of the audience.

      James

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Lone Ranger— Thank you!!

      I cannot say I disagree with your assertion, "I can't think of another invention that has done more to destroy the nuclear family and society than the 'idiot box'."

      Television itself is neutral, of course, but it is powerful and can be and is used for good and for evil.

      I appreciate the visit and your comments, L.R.

      JAW

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      drbj— Thank you so much for the accolades. You have read the book I based this on, The Fifties? Awesome! I love that book. And to be honest, I love the Fifties, the decade in which I was born, though I don't remember them.

      I like what you said about Betty Furness. As always, I appreciate this visitation from you. :)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      WillStarr— Thank you for pointing out such a fascinating fact that the greatest labor saving invention of all was "wash 'n wear clothing." I had not thought of that but it rings true, my friend.

      You always give us a keen insight or two with your comments. I appreciate this very much.

      James

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Rod Marsden— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      7 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Oh I remember Saturday nights with four little brothers and scary movies didn't come in good until a couple of the other channels signed off! I remember black wires strung from the antenna to pictures or whatever metal might help reception! I wonder if TV is on its way out really? My husband even prefers his sports watching online.

      Fun hub!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      7 years ago

      Great article!

      Betty was a genius at befriending her audience. Fascinating how she was able to do this and remain modest. I wish current programming had the same creativity and intelligence.

      I liked how the article showed the progression of television being like Betty our friend, invited into our homes then later becoming somewhat dictatorial concerning our values as you quoted so well "it has vast power in the shaping of popular standards"

      Ernest Dichter's advertising philosophy's, however obviously evil, have been effective ones.

      Great historical background information on television and it's founding philosophies. I enjoyed the article.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      artrush73— Thank you very much for your kind comments. And you are most welcome. I am glad that you came by and read my Hub.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      CMHypno— I appreciate your outstanding comments! You asked a deep question. And I agree with your analysis wholeheartedly.

      You wrote: "All the people who say that violence on the TV has no effect on their children, should ponder on why the 60 second advertising slot in the middle of the big film on Christmas Day costs several million pounds?"

      Yes, indeed. It is all sax and violins these days.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      thesingernurse— You are surely right that "it's every band's or musician's dream to be featured on television to get their biggest break."

      I am pleased that you enjoyed my little article. Thank you for the compliment.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Kaie Arwen— A big hello to my favorite Hubber. As you say, "advertising has far more impact than anyone believes."

      I am glad you had fun. It is always great to see you. :-)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      michiganman567— Hello, my fellow Michigander. I appreciate the voted up. And yes, the power of television to shape behavior is awesome.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Lynn S. Murphy— "my brother and I were the remotes"

      Funny!

      We had three channels back then but TV seemed quite interesting. Now with 700 channels, there is oft times nothing to watch!

      Thank you for the kind compliment.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Marcy Goodfleisch— Thank you for the voted up and interesting! I am well pleased that you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Tom Whitworth— Tom! It has been a while, my friend, since I've heard from you. I hope all is well in your world. Thank you for sharing that funny story about the refrigerator that wouldn't open. I appreciate the visit and your comments. :)

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      rorshak sobchak— Thank you for being my first visitor! Public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes have changed drastically alright. I am glad you enjoyed this Hub. It is good to "see" you here. :D

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 

      7 years ago from Southern Clime

      I was an odd kid and loved it. I really turned on television then to mostly watch the commercials and the Westerns. My grandfather, Papa, Had an old television that looked like a GE cyclops with three legs. Aside from the Frigidaire and Sears cedar wardrobe, it was the most important new technology in the house.

      Thanks for the memories!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      James Watkins,

      Queen of appliances - the first celebrity endorsement. As always I learn from your writing. Keep up the great work. Great hub!

    • profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      7 years ago

      James,

      You bring back fond memories of when I was raised by my grandparents. We lived near the Green Giant plant and what an awesome mascot was the Green Giant!

      Thank you for a great experience reliving these memories.

    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 

      7 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      It's interesting to me how used to advertising we have become. It's everywhere and we are so inundated with it we take it for granted. I enjoyed the history lesson on how its birth. How it's grown! Betty's little baby has become a monster. James, one of the things I like most about your always excellent hubs is that I never fail to learn. Thank you.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 

      7 years ago from New Mexico

      What a trip down memory lane for me to see the photo of C.L Long, the original Marlboro man, in your interesting hub. I was once (sorta) related to C.L. Long by marriage--my ex husband's sister is married to one of his five sons. Of course, the cigarette pictured is a hand-rolled, filterless one. And, of course, C.L. tragically died of lung cancer!

    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      7 years ago

      James A Watkins, What an imaginative, intelligent, interesting summary of the interaction which is played out nightly between advertising and programming on televisions from coast to coast (as well as island to island in Hawaii)! In particular, I like your choices of focusing on Westinghouse, Marlboro and Green Giant. You do an especially great job of identifying the appeal that each actor (non-threatening Betty, masculine Marlboro, healthy giant) had for devoted audiences night after night.

      Thank you for sharing, voted up + all,

      Derdriu

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 

      7 years ago

      Another great Hub James!!!

      It's ironic that women feared that the dishwasher would put women out of business in the kitchen and men would no longer need wives, but it was the television that convinced women that they were better off without men.

      I can't think of another invention that has done more to destroy the nuclear family and society than the "idiot box".

      Best wishes - L.R.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent research and painstaking presentation, James. Outstanding as always. I learned more quickly from this hub than I did from reading "The Fifties."

      I remember Betty Furness and she was the perfect role model for the 50s woman - neat, attractive, self-possessed (especially with that fridge door) and appeared to be an honest friend whose word you could trust - not an advertising pitchwoman.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      The greatest labor saving invention of all wasn't an appliance. It was wash 'n wear clothing (initially termed 'drip dry). It saved women literally hours and hours of ironing clothes each week, a backbreaking chore. Many women ironed every article of clothing, including socks and underwear, and in a family of four, that consumed more than a full day each week.

      Good Hub, James!

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 

      7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Interesting. Television has come a long way.

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 

      7 years ago

      Very informative hub, thanks for sharing. I'm glad I've read it.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 

      7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting hub James, and I wonder how our world would have been different if the television had never been invented. All the people who say that violence on the TV has no effect on their children, should ponder on why the 60 second advertising slot in the middle of the big film on Christmas Day costs several million pounds? Yes, what we watch does affect our views, our behaviour and buying patterns.

    • thesingernurse profile image

      Tina Siuagan 

      7 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      This is very true. That's why it's an every band's or musician's dream to be featured on television to get their biggest break. :D Very well written. I learned lots of things. :D

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 

      7 years ago

      This was fun.......... advertising has far more impact than anyone believes~ it's a mind game........ that's for sure! K

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      Voted up. I didn't know that Marlboro were for women. I guess that advertising works better than I thought.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      7 years ago

      Great hub I don't remember Betty, but all the shows were amazing back then. I remember 3 channels on TV and my brother and I were the remotes. lol!!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      7 years ago from Planet Earth

      Great trip down memory lane! Wish I'd seen the live commercial Tom mentions! Voted up and interesting.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Useful and entertaining hub James. The live commercial, I remember watching Betty wrestle with a refrigerator door that would not open. She glided to one side, just like it was planned, and some background off camera noises came from the offending 'fridge. Betty returned to a magically open door. Great days.

    • profile image

      rorshak sobchak 

      7 years ago

      Neat Hub. My uncle and I were just talking about when he was a kid it wasn't even a big deal for the entire family to smoke a pack. They thought there was nothing wrong with it.

      You made really good points about the televsion.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)