A Sign Is a Fine Investment

In this documentary, a feminist look at marketing and advertising, Judith Williamson explores the ways that our daily activities are--or more often, are not--reflected in advertisements. Early advertising, the filmmaker points out, from the 1890s to the 1930s, frequently invoked images of industrial work to sell its products, impressing the buyer with these details of manufacturing. Where has work disappeared to in modern advertising--and why has it gone? Williamson traces this disappearance through advertising films, magazines and television, examining in the process the economic and social factors that determine the visibility or invisibility of many aspects of our lives in advertisements. Much of the film is set, appropriately, where advertising reverberates most: in the average home of the average woman and her family, passing a schematic day during which they are frequently invaded by marketed images of themselves.

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