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Merchandising and Advertising
The policies of the Coolidge administration supported business and spurred tremendous commercial growth. Automobiles and radios emerged as the top-selling consumer products of the 1920s. By 1925 there was one automobile for every six persons in the country (as compared to one for every one hundred in Great Britain), and by 1930 this had increased to one for every 4.6 people. By the end of the decade, an estimated 40 percent of American families owned radios. Both these products served to connect remote communities, especially in rural areas; automobiles brought mobility to both urban and rural consumers and radios provided access to information and opportunities.
Many companies organized extravagant advertising spectacles and other enterprises to attract consumers. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a pitch for the children's toy market, was one example of popular merchandising. Filene's Basement, offering cut-price items for the shopper of moderate income, was another. Many department stores drew upon the Art-in-Industry Movement of the 1920s, which sought to emphasize aesthetic considerations in the design and production of retail goods. This movement greatly influenced advertising methods in department stores.
Businesses also enlisted the expertise of public-relations agents like Edward L. Bernays and Bruce Barton. Among the prominent companies that Bernays listed as clients were Dodge Brothers, Procter & Gamble, the American Tobacco Company, Cartier, Best Foods, and Knox-Gelatin.
For books and magazines in the digital collection that relate to the automobile, see: Facts and Figures of the Automobile Industry (1927), The Popular Mechanics Automobile Tourist's Handbook (1923); Automobile Trade Journal (January 1, 1926), and Your Car: A Magazine of Romance, Fact and Fiction (1925).
For radio, see: Radio--General, 1923-29 (Coolidge Papers); "What Future for Radio Advertising?" (Bernays Papers); The Merchandising of Radio, by Charles Coolidge Parlin (1925); the feature article, "Tuning in Pays Kansas" in The Country Gentleman (February 1926); and A Study of Radio Broadcasting Based Exclusively on Personal Interviews with Families in the United States East of the Rocky Mountains, by Daniel Starch (1928).
For more on merchandising and advertising, see the following entries in the "Guide to People, Organizations, and Topics in Prosperity and Thrift" or use these terms to search the collection: Associated Advertising, Dry Goods Economist, Made in the USA Campaign, Julius Rosenwald.
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