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.
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