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Humanities 2016, 5(2), 29; doi:10.3390/h5020029

Don Draper Thinks Your Ad Is Cliché: Fairy Tale Iconography in TV Commercials

English Department, Brigham Young University, 4198 JFSB, Provo, UT 84606, USA
Academic Editor: Claudia Schwabe
Received: 11 March 2016 / Revised: 28 April 2016 / Accepted: 28 April 2016 / Published: 6 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fairy Tale and its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture)

Abstract

When examining the history of fairy tale iconography in advertising, folklore scholar Donald Haase’s fairy tale encyclopedia compared the Pied Piper of Hamelin to a symbol of advertising who could “play his pipe ever so sweetly and the consumers following him without resisting his charming and manipulative music.” In contrast, a 2012 episode of Mad Men, advertising luminary Don Draper shoots down a shoe commercial pitch featuring Cinderella, calling the idea “cliché”. The temptation for advertisers to rely on fairy tale figures and iconography continues today and many ignore Don’s aversion for cliché because it still gets the job done. However, there are some ads featuring fairy tales which avoid cliché and are truly innovative for their time. I’ll examine how, and for whom, these fairy tale figures have been adapted decade by decade in order to examine popular culture’s commercialized and hypnotic relationship with fairy tales in the most direct format available: television commercials. View Full-Text
Keywords: fairy tale; iconography; advertising; commercial; TV; television fairy tale; iconography; advertising; commercial; TV; television
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wittwer, P. Don Draper Thinks Your Ad Is Cliché: Fairy Tale Iconography in TV Commercials. Humanities 2016, 5, 29.

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