Stickin' it to the man since 1927.
From chain-smoking G.I.s to grad schools and the Peace Corps
By Ashley Klann
We’ve been stickin’ it to the man since 1927, but over the decades, The Scarlet has changed in many ways since it was first published. But then again, some things never change. “From the Archives” will be a semester-long look at when things were different and how The Scarlet became what it is today. Clarkies of the past have Spreed like the best of us, enjoyed nice weather on the Green, and sweated to death in the JC, and although we are all intrinsically linked by our alma mater, Clark and its students have changed over the years. And The Scarlet has served both as a record and a changing entity of its own.
Open any recent Scarlet, and you’ll find your share of advertising. Just like any other publication (even those funded by universities) we profit from advertisers to sustain ourselves. Graduate schools, technical programs, Spiritual Haze, the Peace Corps, and MTV’s Real World are just a few of the things have that we have advertised. As mundane as these sound, The Scarlet’s advertising wasn’t always so grey.
Imagine opening Clark’s student newspaper and seeing Santa with a carton of cigarettes. Or a G.I. drinking a refreshing Coca-Cola. What if Clark itself took out an ad in The Scarlet? Or the English department was recommending what dictionary you should get next semester.
Advertising has changed a lot over the years, and while the tactics therein are much more honed and are designed to seem less deliberate, they have always been a part of print journalism, whether we like it or not.
Back when The Scarlet was a broadsheet-style newspaper, when jovial cigarette ads without surgeon general warnings were still legal and widely printed, Chesterfield’s cigarettes took out two nearly full-page advertisements in each issue. Pages 2 and 4 were almost entirely devoted to letting the male students of Clark College know what cigarettes one should smoke if they’re planning on attending the dance or want to be taken seriously. Lucky Strike was the top selling cigarette in the United States during the 1930s and was also featured frequently in our pages during that time.
The last cigarette ad we see after a long hiatus of the incredibly traditional, heteronormative ones of the 40s and 50s is in the 60s, detailing a new improved warning label, divulging what we now consider common knowledge.
Former Editor-in-Chief, Alyssa Sunkin ’07, remarked that the current layout puts a much needed emphasis on content, and not ads. Indeed, pulling out some older issues reveals that advertising had much more presence in the paper than we give it now.
As late as the 70s, when the paper was still in that same format, editors were aware of how detrimental tons of advertising was to the effectiveness of their content. The April 1, 1971 Scarlet’s “inside this issue” included a “Contest of the Week: pick your favorite ad.” Page 3 was entirely full.
Advertising gives us an idea of the changes in what is acceptable and captivating.
Surely now the average viewer is too informed and guarded to fall to any of these old ads. Now we’re able to laugh at images of quintessential American businessmen and housewives, Santa, and military officials used to sell items in the past.
The military’s presence in advertising didn’t end with the Chesterfield and Coca-Cola ads. The Scarlet also advertised war bonds during Valentine’s Day. “On Valentine’s Day, remember Uncle Sam, too!” reads a front page ad from 1942. The text is accompanied by a drawing of cupid, having put down his bow and arrows in favor of a helmet and gun.
The military didn’t stop there. Issues were covered in sneakily placed “advertorials,” or advertisements that look like legitimate news stories due to text and layout.
One from the 40s made an appeal “to the women of Clark University” only two years after their acceptance to our school. The message, which I’m sure was reprinted to fit a number of campus papers, states that no group is more effectual in aiding the war effort than young college-educated women.
The advertisements in a publication can also give insight to happenings outside the paper. Beside the changing scripts of advertisements, military action, and government and societal reactions to the dangers of smoking, one can also get a sense of what things were like around campus for Clarkies of the past.
In the first broadsheet volume of The Clark News, L.B. Wheaton’s, a camera supply store still in business on Park Ave. was clustered together with a few other ads. Other common ads pointed Clark gentlemen to all the right places to get your portrait taken or your suit tailored.
Many markets in the area have since gone out of business, and The College Newsroom has been replaced by Annie’s. And let’s not forget about Thornby’s Lunch – “Where all Clark men and their friends eat after the game or dance,” …back when Clark men and their friends went to games and dances.
More modern ads chronicle the breakthrough technology of the time, let students know where to buy apartment furnishings, and offer coupons to the Blarney Stone when they had disco night.
Overall, advertisements are something that in the moment may not seem so significant, but are highly indicative of outside culture and day-to-day life.
Next week, we will look at the founding wishes of Jonas Clark and what’s changed since he left. Modern Clark wouldn’t have suited his will, and we’ll find out why.