By Matthew Shaw
A letter from Peter Zheutlin in the New Yorker(“Product Placement”, 18 Jan 2010) leads to yet another chain of thoughts. Zheutlin, following a piece on Tiger Woods and commercial endorsements, draws the reader’s attention to the endorsement by professional and amateur cyclists ‘for at least a decade’ before 1905. In 1894, his great-grandaunt, Annie Kopchovsky, advertised Londonderry Lithia Spring Water during her ride around the world – the first by a female cyclist – and later advertised Sterling bicycles as the machine used for the second part of her circumgyration (she even travelled under the name Londonderry). Sterling bikes, it seems, were also endorsed by Annie Oakley, the sharpshooter.
By co-incidence, we have been acquiring one or two early trade catalogues of U.S. bicycle manufacturers (as well as holding many of the newspapers advertising Sterling’s products, with all that they reveal about commerce, adventure and feminism); colleagues on Dach Blog have also been writing about what can be learnt from adverts. And readers may also be interested to know about this post by Francisca Pérez about how ads are being used for research on ‘Everyday Practices and Representations of Domestic Space, Santiago, Chile, 1930-1960′.
Meanwhile, Zheutlin is also doing his own product placement. Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride. Around the World on Two Wheels, is out now…
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Photo credit: Istockphoto.com