Journal Article

‘An Exposition of Our Own’: Corporate Identity, Consumer Advertising and Atlantic City’s National Exhibits, 1898–1968

Roger B. White

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 26, issue 1, pages 47-64
Published in print February 2013 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online November 2012 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/eps048
‘An Exposition of Our Own’: Corporate Identity, Consumer Advertising and Atlantic City’s National Exhibits, 1898–1968

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This paper focuses on permanent displays of leading American manufacturers at the National Exhibits in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a major tourist resort on the east coast of the United States. Beginning in 1898, these displays expanded on corporate use of world’s fair exhibits as advertising. Exhibits relocated from world’s fairs to Atlantic City gradually were supplemented by original presentations. By the 1920s, the National Exhibits reflected a shift from celebrations of technological progress and corporate self-importance to public relations spectacles that promoted consumer products and the consumer lifestyle. Drawn by the millions of tourists who visited Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk each year, corporations in the 1920s spent lavishly on their Atlantic City projects. Working with architects and advertising professionals, corporations expressed their identities through individual pavilions and seductive showrooms that immersed visitors in the personal benefits and aesthetic allure of automobiles, appliances, bathroom fixtures and other consumer durables. The National Exhibits were important precursors to corporate displays at US-based world’s fairs of the 1930s, where corporations demanded individual pavilions to convey their messages of economic redemption through applied science, technology and consumerism.

Keywords: 1920s; advertising; architecture; consumers; corporate identity; exhibitions

Journal Article.  8235 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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