ADVERTISING: Back to the Hard Sell for a Lean Industry

It once seemed that the party on Madison Avenue would never end. For almost a decade, openhanded corporate clients threw dollars around like confetti to promote their products. Advertising agencies grew fat; creativity was in full flower. The most sought-after agencies turned out bright, playful ads designed to put consumers in a happy mood: Alka Seltzer's "Try it, you'll like it"; Lay's potato chips' "Bet you can't eat just one"; Noxzema shaving cream's "Take it off, take it all off."

Then two years ago, with the onset of the nation's deepest postwar...

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