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Advertising – the halcyon days?

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

On 24th March it was the turn of Sheila Byfield to deliver our monthly NED Talk. She chose as her subject ‘The dark and the lighter sides of advertising’ and it proved to be a highly entertaining romp through some of the industry’s more questionable efforts.

In a talk that, as she had promised, shocked, disgusted and amused in fairly equal measure, Sheila explored the history of advertising with a special focus on how women have been portrayed across the years.

The talk was liberally illustrated with examples – mostly of press advertising and much of it dating from a period before anyone conceived of the Advertising Standards Authority. Although most of Sheila’s examples were doubtless legal (at the time) and largely decent, very few of them would be regarded nowadays as honest or truthful. Peddling heroin to children, making uniforms for the Third Reich and attempting to control our sex lives were just a few of the behaviours she cited from some of our best known brands.

At the end of Sheila’s presentation there followed a lively discussion not only of the issues of honesty and truthfulness but also of the state of the advertising industry today, and the role of new vs traditional media in the present day. Of all the NED Talks so far, this one was by far the most closely related to the professional lives of Network members, and the discussion reflected the specialist knowledge of the audience. An enjoyable and highly stimulating presentation!

The next talk will be on Wednesday 21 April when Graham Woodham takes up another theme that combines professional relevance with high entertainment potential: ‘Non-verbal Communication – The Subtleties of Social Interactions’. Do please get in touch with a member of the Steering Group if you think you may have a topic of interest. We’d love to hear from you…