As Ever, Advertising Mirrors How We Feel

In the waning days of the 1980s, ads for the Oldsmobile Cutlass touted the car's luxury features and driving pleasure. Today the pitch is much different. An Olds ad urges car buyers to "put your money in a safe place. No matter what the economic forecast, there is one investment you can always feel comfortable with." The mood of the U.S. has changed, and so has advertising. The country is fighting a war abroad and battling a recession at home, and commercial messages are adapting their tone to fit a back-to-basics attitude that is abroad in the land.

Pitching to the...

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