Writing Advertising: the Production of Relationships in Historical Review

  • Timothy de Waal Malefyt


This article examines a range of writings on advertising. It shows that advertising has been written about as instrumental to an emerging capitalistic market, touted as a flamboyant lifestyle in autobiographical tales of charismatic advertising leaders, depicted as a coercive tool of manipulation for creating false desires in consumers, and analyzed for its complex social and political relations among its internal divisions and suppliers. I argue that the many ways advertising is written about reveal an ever-changing structural alignment within advertising itself, in what Pierre Bourdieu (1993) calls a field of strategic relations and possibles. In this, advertising, as well as the writing about advertising, is shown from a shifting ‘production of relations’ relative to economic, political, social and self-intended issues. The article concludes with possible future directions that writings on advertising will take.