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Americanisation in 20th Century Europe: business, culture, politics. Volume 2

 | 
Nick Tiratsoo
, 
Mathias Kipping

Changing a low consumption society

The impact of US advertising methods and techniques in Italy

Luciano Segreto

Résumé

En Italie, le processus d’industrialisation et de modernisation commença plus tard que dans la plupart des autres pays d’Europe occidentale. Les préjugés nettement anti-industrialisation qui animent les cultures catholique et communiste, ont longtemps interdit toute affirmation d’une culture industrielle. C’est vraisemblablement la raison pour laquelle l’hostilité à la publicité est davantage enracinée en Italie que partout ailleurs. Les valeurs telles que l’entreprise, le profit, la consommation et bien sûr la publicité ont lutté pour s’imposer. Les entreprises et les professionnels du secteur publicitaire ont rencontré davantage de difficultés pratiques que dans les autres pays occidentaux, et ce jusqu’à la fin des années 1960.

Texte intégral

introduction

1In Italy the processes of industrialisation and modernisation began later than in many other Western European countries. In terms of the political, it is even possible to argue that Italy is still waiting for real modernisation. The sociologists think that modernisation was connected to post-1945 industrialisation, the process that - in their words - transformed Italy from an agricultural country. Sometimes even historians are inclined to think that effective Italian industrialisation is really only a relatively recent phenomenon. This opinion is based upon a misreading of the GNP data. For, on the eve of the First World War, it is clear that Italy was already among the main industrialised countries, clearly distant from others in Western Europe. In the inter-war period, its position remained virtually the same. The spectacular economic and industrial development of the country between 1953 and 1963 produced a new image. The phrase ‘the Italian economic miracle’ summed up the complexity of the transformation experienced at this time.

  • 1 P. Ginsborg, Storia d'Italia dal dopoguerra ad oggi. Società e politica 1943-1988, Turin, Einaudi, (...)

2In these years, Italian average annual GNP growth was second only to that of Germany. Emigration became an internal phenomenon with the displacement of millions of Italians from the Southern regions to the North, the so-called industrial triangle (Milan, Turin, and Genoa). In general, the young abandoned the countryside, while the female working population grew significantly, including in industrial sectors. There was also a related boom in consumption, based around goods like cars, refrigerators and televisions. This, in turn, encouraged new social values and changed the popular mentality. The US emphasis on economic growth and democracy gained salience. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that the most powerful and influential political parties in Italy, the Christian Democrats and the Communists, remained - for different reasons – rather sceptical about the American way of life. Pope Pious XII warned the Coltivatori Diretti, the catholic conservative peasants’ organisation, to preserve the rural population’s traditional Christian values (hard work, thrift, etc.) from the “materialistic propaganda” of the audio-visual media. The famous Communist writer and poet, Pier Paolo Pasolini, expressed similar sentiments, and campaigned against the “all powerful” TV advertising programme Carosello, which, he claimed, promoted materialistic and anti-religious values.1

  • 2 V. Castronovo, “Cultura e società industriale”, Quaderni di industria e sindacato, Atti del convegn (...)
  • 3 G. Fabris, La pubblicità. Teorie e prassi, Milan, Angeli, 1992, p. 56 ff.
  • 4 F. Alberoni, Consumi e società, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1964, p. 159-172 ; G. L. Falabrino, Pubblicità (...)

3In fact, Catholic and Communist anti-industrialist prejudice was strong enough to long inhibit the full affirmation of an industrial culture.2 This is probably the reason why hostility to advertising has been more rooted in Italy that anywhere else. The values of the enterprise, entrepreneurship, profit, consumption and, of course, advertising have struggled to establish themselves. In the post-1945 period, the social context was still dominated by values diffused and preserved by institutions like the family and the Catholic Church. To accede to the pleasures of consumption meant to prefer materialistic rather than traditional, spiritual dimensions of life. In this kind of culture, the virtuous man was still considered to be the man who saved.3 Indeed, the new materialistic temptations easily induced unease and even guilt. The woman who used detergents and the washing machine – instead of soap and her hands – was seen in some quarters as failing in her duties as wife and mother. Thus, if advertising was to be successful, it needed to respect long-standing values. Typically, in the food sector, the advertisers insisted on the genuineness of a product by underlining the fact that it did not brake with the harmony of tradition and the family – a theme that is still common today.4

the pioneers

  • 5 A. Valeri, Pubblicità italiana. Storia, protagonisti e tendenze di cento anni di comunicazione, Mil (...)

4Advertising had to fight a long and very difficult battle against conservative mentalities – and sometimes, even today, it may be asked whether that battle has really been won. Since the beginning of the Twentieth Century, advertising has never had it easy. The terminology used to define advertising - and the discussion that raged around the topic among writers and philologists - shows a sort of national idiosyncrasy. The word ‘réclame’, though universally accepted in the late Nineteenth Century, was considered a Gallicism, and as such ‘barbaric’. Only in 1902 was the word ‘publicity’ proposed for the first time as a good substitute.5 The echoes of discussions in the US about the subject, and maybe also the decline of the French influence on the Italian economy and culture (which began in the 1890s), go some way to explaining the evolution of opinions in Italy.

  • 6 G. Benelli, “Lo sviluppo storico-economico della pubblicità in Italia”, L’Ufficio moderno, 9, 1953, (...)
  • 7 P. Hertner, “La Germania alla conquista del mercato italiano tra gli anni ottanta e la vigilia dell (...)

5In the late Nineteenth Century, advertising was not considered a means of communication for ‘serious’ and well-known firms. But this also meant that the market was so rigid – and small – that producers did not feel threatened by their competitors. It must not be forgotten that those who wanted to use advertising knew very well that their target audience was limited because of the very low purchasing power of the Italian population. In a country where in 1901 more than one third of the population was still illiterate, and where most of the peasants’ earnings were used to buy cereals and food, to advertise a product was a decision not to be taken lightly.6 Italian trade policy, based on high barriers, continued to protect non-competitive firms, though from the 1890s, foreign companies – first of all from Germany – began to penetrate the Peninsula. Their methods were new, aggressive, and largely based on advertising campaigns. A few Italian firms reacted positively, and among them were the beverage firms Campari and Fernet, and the heating producer Borsalino, all pioneers already in the use of wall advertising.7

  • 8 Valeri 1986: 22; A. Valeri, “Appunti per una storia della pubblicità in Italia”, I prodotti di marc (...)

6This method was relatively old and quite well diffused. If in France the first colour poster advertising appeared in 1846, in ltaly the first lithographic outfit specialising in this kind of product appeared in 1872. Nine years later, the owner of the pioneer firm founded a company called Impresa Generale Affissioni e Pubblicità (General Firm for Poster Advertising), which provided its customer not only with a product (the poster) but also a whole service. A year before, the first horse-drawn urban tramway in Turin had begun operating. And with this new means of transport, poster advertising quickly spread during the following years to the entire country. A Frenchman, Ferdinand du Chène de Vère, was the first entrepreneur to exploit the new segment of the market. Soon his firm, the Du Chêne & Co. (founded in Brescia in 1886 but based in Milan from 1888), obtained the exclusive rights to service the tramways companies of not only Turin and Milan, but also Florence, Naples, Bologna and Leghorn.8

  • 9 I. Weiss, La Manzoni, una famiglia, in Cento anni della Manzoni & C. attraverso immagini di vita e (...)

7At about the same time, another Milan entrepreneur, Attilio Manzoni, launched newspaper advertising in Italy, a service that already existed in many other European countries. He had founded a firm in 1863 to trade medicines and Chemical products, but in 1870 diversified by creating an operation which worked like the French Société Générale des Annonces, in other words which bought pages of newspapers or magazines and sold the space for advertising. Within a few years, the Manzoni firm had the rights for the Corriere della Sera, at that rime the most important newspaper only in Milan, and for several other newspaper in Lombardy, as well as some magazines. Manzoni then opened a ‘Bureau Central d’annonces sur les journaux d’Italie et de l’Orient’ in Paris during 1876, and followed this by creating other branches both abroad (in Berlin, Zurich and Frankfurt) and at home (in Rome (1878), Naples (1884) and Genoa (1885)).9

  • 10 Brioschi 1964 : 159 ; Falabrino 1989 : 124.

8The Manzoni model was swiftly copied. In 1886, a Swiss company, Haasenstein & Vogler (founded by two Germans who gave their names to the firm before selling it to a Swiss citizen, Charles Georges) entered the Italian market. Soon the company obtained the exclusive rights over advertising in some of the most prestigious Italian newspapers: La Stampa of Turin (1886), Il Mattino of Naples (1891), La Nazione of Florence (1892), and in 1895 also the Corriere della Sera, when the contract with Manzoni expired. Haasenstein & Vogler changed its name during World War One to Unione Pubblicità Italiana, in order to avoid trouble with the Italian authorities and the nationalist movement, both quite suspicious of any firm with a German origin or name.10

industrialisation and advertising

  • 11 Brioschi 1964 : 172-176 ; P. Cirio, Carlo e Camillo Gancia. Strategie industriali 1850-1935, Cavall (...)

9The acceleration of Italian industrialisation and social change around 1900 had significant consequences for ‘publicity’. According to the literature, this period was notable for a shift from ‘advertising practice’ to ‘advertising technique’. The first phase was characterised by qualitative improvement and quantitative growth, which persuaded a growing number of industrial firms to become involved. The next phase, which continued through to the 1960’s, was notable for even better techniques and a much bigger degree of quantitative growth, in terms of both space and ubiquity. Many big Italian firms began to use advertising extensively. The phenomenon took shape first of all in the food and beverage sectors (Arrigoni, Buitoni, Galbani, Liebig, Maggi, Mellin, Perugina, Branca, Buton, Campari, Cinzano, Gancia and many others), quickly followed by the medical and chemical sectors (Manetti & Roberts, Migone, Montecatini). Finally, the key actors of the second industrial revolution (producing cars, motorcycles, tyres, cameras, typewriters and sewing machines) became interested. Brands like Olivetti, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Fraschini, Lancia, and Pirelli, together with the American Remington, Singer, Kodak Underwood and Dunlop, and the French Michelin, owed much of their fame in Italy to their first advertising campaigns, and the symbols that they choose and through which their trade marks became famous.11

  • 12 Brioschi 1964 : 177 ; [Anon.], “Buona e cattiva pubblicità”, L’Impresa moderna, 1,1912, p. 29 ff.
  • 13 C. Cassola, La réclame dal punto di vista economico, Turin, Bocca, 1906 ; G. Prezzolini, L’arte di (...)
  • 14 P. Hertner, Il capitale tedesco in Italia dall'Unità alla prima guerra mondiale. Banche miste e svi (...)

10The economic and advertising communities also had some new techniques, which confirmed that something was changing in Italy, even if slowly. In 1902, a journal called Risorgimento grafico appeared, covering the artistic aspects of advertising but also various other issues - the different ways of advertising, moral questions, and the technical progress of the Italian specialists. Later, in 1912, another journal, L’Impresa Moderna (the Modern Firm), began publication. It was sub-titled ‘Rivista dei sistemi di organizzazione commerciale’ (Journal of the Systems of Commercial Organisation). The bridge between the firm and advertising was built. L’Impresa Moderna led discussion in Italy about rules, methods and procedures, and planning in advertising.12 Some of the main protagonists in these debates came from journalism, with well-known writers like Cassola and Prezzolini publishing books about advertising technique and the art of seducing the customer. Meanwhile, several new advertising firms were launched13, and some big companies, like the engineering firms Fiat and Ansaldo, the beverage and liquor firm Martini & Rossi, and the department store Rinascente, created their own advertising offices, often directed by journalists. If the first phase of advertising in Italy owed much to French ideas and methods, as the Du Chène and Manzoni cases show, in the new phase, despite the German influence in the Italian economy as a whole, it was American (or Anglo-American) methods that began to dominate.14

  • 15 F. Amatori and A. Colli, Impresa e industria in Italia dall’Unità a oggi, Venice, Marsilio, 1999.

11It must not be forgotten that these new trends involved only a very limited number of companies. On the other hand, the oligopolistic structure of the Italian economy, a characteristic developed by World War One, allowed quite quick diffusion of the new ideas and methods. Almost every industrial sector had its big firm (big also by European standards), which introduced modem managerial methods and organisational capabilities during the inter-war period. But, nevertheless, it is also true that around some isolated Mont Blancs, there were just a few hills and a largely flat plane, where medium, small and micro enterprises – some very competitive – predominated. These kinds of firms had nothing to do with the discussions about advertising.15

the inter-war period: crisis or development?

12The fascist years in Italy have often been considered a period of isolation. This is true, but only up to a point. In fact, the Italian economy reacted like all the other leading economies of the time. A first phase, characterised by good performance, was followed by a second, from the 1929 international crisis onwards, when industrial production decreased slowly and unemployment increased rapidly. Italian trade also followed international trends, with a strong contraction in comparison to the pre-1914 period, though this situation was probably made worse by the sanctions policy of the League of the Nations after the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1936.

  • 16 F. Guarneri, Battaglie economiche fra le due guerre, Milan, Rizzoli, 1953, vol. I, p. 274.
  • 17 V. Castronovo, Storia economica d’Italia. Dall'Ottocento ai giorni nostri, Turin, Einaudi, 1995, p. (...)
  • 18 E. Ciancl, Nascita dello Stato imprenditore, Milan, Mursia, 1977.
  • 19 E. Rossi, I padroni del vapore, Bari, Laterza, 1955, p. 157.
  • 20 V. Dagnino, I cartelli industriali nationale e internazionali, Turin, Bocca, 1928.
  • 21 Rossi 1955 : 157-158. Rossi added that in the four volumes semi-official Dizionario di politica, ed (...)
  • 22 The word consortia – a translation of the Italian word consorzio – was understood to mean a group o (...)

13The industrial structure of the country became even more firmly established. The crisis of the world market caused new forms of competition, whose effects were sometimes perverse. In Italy, as in other countries, firms were free to form cartels or sign other agreements to reduce competition. The cartels created were essentially sale organisations.16 In many cases, the competition and jealousies among the potential participants were so strong and deep that it was very difficult even to sign an agreement or respect it. This situation was particularly common in the metallurgical and textile sectors, both deeply affected by the general economic crisis, the former because of the difficulties of the universal banks, the latter because of the collapse of demand, both in Italy and abroad.17 State intervention became a necessity and assumed different forms. The eclipse of the universal banks in 1931-32 persuaded the State to become an entrepreneur, giving management unity to several industrial sectors such as Steel, shipbuilding and heavy mechanical engineering.18 But such action was not necessarily enough to bring the various factions together, and so the State also turned to the law. Thus, at the beginning of the 1930’s, the Italian Parliament passed a measure which forced all firms with stakes in existing agreements to respect them. At the same time, the statutes of cartels were legally recognised. The directors of cartels now had powers to oblige single firms to respect their goals. On the commercial side they could impose a common policy on purchasing, as well as on sales to domestic and foreign markets, so as to promote efficiency in distribution and marketing. However, the Italian government very quickly realised that the powers given to the cartels transformed them into kinds of monopoly, leaving the State without any real instrument to control them or prevent abuses.19 In the conditions of the early 1930’s, the word cartel gained a very negative connotation. While in the previous decade cartels were thought of as, among other things, useful instruments for modernisation and rationalisation20, in a period of economic crisis the industrialist forming a cartel was considered a ‘parasite’ and his creature an instrument designed only to dominate consumers.21 This was the reason why Decree 31.12.1931 n. 1670, approved by Parliament in 1932 as Law 16.6.1932, n. 834, focused on the “Regulations regarding the establishment and operations of Consortia among firms engaged in the same type of productive activity”.22

  • 23 N. Caimi, Perché e come si deve fare la pubblicità in Italia, Turin, ILI, 1950, p. 155.
  • 24 R. Petrini, “L’azienda giudicata : la Montecatini tra mito, immagine e valore simbolico”, in F. Ama (...)

14State intervention and cartelisation were not, in themselves, forces opposed to the development of advertising. In fact, the fascist state was one of the most important and dynamic consumers of advertising techniques. In the 1930’s, State publicity reached its peak. There were campaigns for the Post and Telegraph service; the Italian Railways; the products of Tobacco Monopolies (the state-controlled firm for the tobacco sector); the ‘Exhibition of the Revolution’ (organised in Rome on the tenth anniversary of the Fascist take-over); the Opera Nazionale Balilla (the Fascist youth organisation); the “Battle for Grain”; and, during the autarky period, the need to buy Italian products.23 Firms that were touched by government activity, such as Montecatini, the Italian Chemical giant, were drawn into endorsing some of the regime’s objectives. For example, in the “Battle for Grain”, the campaign to reduce cereal imports by augmenting domestic production, Montecatini played a crucial role in convincing the peasant organisations to consume more artificial fertilisers. The firm had already opened an advertising office in Milan, and asked the best graphics designers to take part in its proselytising.24

  • 25 F. Monteleone, La radio nel periodo fascista, Venice, Marsilio, 1976, p. 37; F. Ballotta and F. Bri (...)

15Firms also benefited from other initiatives of the regime. By controlling the media, the government sought to influence public opinion. The first radio broadcast occurred in 1924, and although radios were not very numerous, the medium’s importance for advertising was clear from the beginning. In 1926 a dedicated firm was set up to manage radio advertising. The Società Italiana Pubblicità Radiofonica Anonima (SIPRA) became a monopoly supplier thanks to a special law, and later that year started functioning. The regime began to use radio specifically for propaganda purposes from the late 1920’s onwards. In 1927, the state-controlled firm Unione Radiofonica Italiana, together with some private firms, such as the radio producer Allocchio and the publisher Mondadori, set up a special body called Ente Italiano Audizioni Radiofoniche (the Italian society for radio auditions).25 Not surprisingly, in the first years of radio broadcasting, the firms that tended to use this medium for their advertising were often those with close connections to the field (Radiomarelli, Telefunken, etc.).

  • 26 Cesarari 1988: 141; P. Boschi, “La pubblicità”, in G. Gallo (ed.), Sulla bocca di tutti. Buitoni e (...)

16But the real change began in 1934. The catalyst was a very successful radio programme – I Quattro Moschettieri (The Fours Musketeers), based on the famous Dumas novel. For this persuaded firms in the food sector (Buitoni and Perugina) to try inserting illustrated cards of the heroes into their products. The prize for completing the collection was entry into a major draw for the goods of other firms that also advertised extensively (Fiat, Guzzi, Necchi, Olivetti and Phonola), including a chance to win the famous ‘Topolino’, the smallest and most popular Fiat car. The success of this initiative convinced many small and medium size firms to form a consortium to create an alternative collection of illustrated cards. But other big firms in the food and beverages sector (Motta, Campari, Cinzano and Branca) denounced all cards as illegal and very dangerous to their market shares, and put pressure on the government to intervene. The Ministry of Finance waited until the award of the first big prize in 1937, and then prohibited these type of games altogether. The official justification given by the government was that the rich prizes on offer undermined the policy of autarky and the restriction of consumption.26

  • 27 R. Tremelloni, “Un lungo tratto di strada (1926-1966)”, L'Ufficio Moderno, 5, 1976, special issue f (...)
  • 28 L. Lenti, “Nascita, vita e morte del G.A.R.”, L’Ufficio Moderno, 1976; D. Villani, La pubblicità ai (...)

17The regime was less closed to the foreign influence than is often assumed. Both economic and academic contacts with more advanced countries gave fruitful – although not very diffused – results. A good example is the birth of a new journal, L’Ufficio Moderno (The Modern Office), which encouraged the spread of some aspects of American business and managerial culture. The editor of the journal was also very active in the formation a discussion group called Gruppo Amici della Razionalizzazione (the Friends of Rationalisation Group), better known as G.A.R., which first met in 1931. The topic of rationalisation was widely interpreted, and included a new interest in micro and macroeconomics, entrepreneurial behaviour, the firm, factories, and scientific organisation. And, of course, it also embraced advertising, considering its importance for the development of the American market. This forum prompted many firms to consider creating their own advertising offices, and Fiat, Olivetti, Perugina, Snia Viscosa, and Schiapparelli eventually followed this strategy.27 Paradoxically, the importance of the G.A.R. increased posthumously. The regime began to be interested in collecting information about its activities and membership, and as a consequence, the group suspended its meetings in 1933. In the same year, the fourth International Congress of Advertising was held in Rome and Milan, which confirmed that Italian advertising was well thought of abroad.28

  • 29 [Anon.], “ACME. Decennale 1922-1932”, L'Ufficio Moderno, 7-8, 1932, p. 416 ff ; Brioschi 1964 : 214
  • 30 Brioschi 1964: 215-221.

18In fact, many new specialised advertising firms appeared during the inter-war period. The evolution of graphic techniques, but also the exigencies of the companies, involved a big change in the sector. The influence of the German Bauhaus and the revolution in industrial design were other factors at work. The conventional wisdom is that the first Italian advertising agency, named ACME, was created in 1922 and then successfully organised campaigns for such firms as Bayer, Branca, Cinzano, Cirio, Galbani, Lanerossi, and Nestlé.29 But, in fact, ACME was something of a cross between an advertising agency and an art studio. The real pioneer here was, perhaps predictably, the branch of an American organisation. In 1925, Erwin Wasey, one of the most famous US advertising agencies, set up an operation in Milan. Directed by an Italian manager (Nino Caimi), but depending for suggestions and strategies on the London branch of the mother company, this firm worked mainly for foreign companies, particularly the Americans (among its customers were Ford, Camel, Mobil Oil and Palmolive). However, the Italian adventure of Erwin Wasey was short-lived. The 1929 international crisis precipitated the closure of the Italian branch. But a kind of fertilisation of other advertising companies followed: the later leading duo, ERVA and I.M.A., were both created by former employees of the American firm.30

reconstruction or americanisation?

19Post-war reconstruction in Italy was as rapid as in any other Western European country. However, the adoption of the American methods of production was less easy and certainly less rapid. The transfer of US technology was a key part of the Marshall Plan, although its adoption varied very much from sector to sector. In any case, one can always consider this period as a first phase of the accumulation of technologies, informations, infrastructures and those other elements which are normally suggested by the word ‘modernisation’. In reality, this latter process was irregular, following very different routes, at very different speeds. The 15-20 years after the end of the war are considered an era of extraordinary economic growth in Italy, as well in the Western world. The expression ‘the Italian economic miracle’ is very indicative, especially if it is remembered that the word ‘miracle’ is popularly used to underline the exceptionality of an event or process.

  • 31 P.P. D’Attorre, “Anche noi possiamo essere prosperi. Aiuti ERP e politiche della produttività negli (...)
  • 32 S. Gundle, “L’americanizzazione del quotidiano. Televisione e consumismo nell’Italia degli anni Cin (...)
  • 33 Ibid., p. 572 ; see also S. Gundle, I comunisti italiani tra Hollywood e Mosca. LA sfida della cult (...)
  • 34 Gundle 1986 : 581. The arrivai of US popular music, and especially rock and roll and Elvis Presley, (...)
  • 35 Ginsborg 1989 : 325.

20The US productivity drive initially met with varied reactions in Italy. US suggestions were by no means simply just welcomed. Many industrialists were sceptical. Only a few accepted the US proposals enthusiastically. However, after reconsidering the economic and industrial structure of the country, the US mission in Rome eventually changed its approach. Thus, after at first copying the methods applied in other Western European countries – where big firms were more numerous – after 1951-52, the US authorities focused on small and medium size firms and the areas where they predominated.31 However, these developments meant relatively little for advertising. Americanisation was something more than, and different to, the productivity drive, as Stephen Gundle explains in his studies of the Americanisation of Italian every-day life.32 As soon as incomes increased, mass consumption did too. The process was slow and took almost the entire 1950’s, but could not be stopped. Urbanisation, which implied the refusal of the peasant world, intensified the trend. The boom of the automobile industry is the best example. Although the cost of the cheapest Fiat car was more than one year’s wages of a Fiat employee, and more than six times the monthly salary of a white collar worker, between 1950 and 1964 the total number of cars in Italy grew from 342,000 to 4,670,000.33 To consume became synonymous with America. The advertising campaigns of many firms focused on American symbols or used American words.34 And with this new wave came new products, like electric razors, nylon socks, and special soaps, together with the fridge and the washing machine. In 1958 only 12 per cent of Italian families owned a TV, while the figure in 1965 was 49 per cent; over the same period, the percentage of families owing a fridge grew from 13 per cent to 55 per cent and those with a washing machine from 3 to 23 per cent.35

  • 36 Valeri 1986 : 86-91.
  • 37 I. M. Lombardo, Produttività e pubblicità, in Atti del V Congresso Nazionale della Pubblicità, Mila (...)
  • 38 Ginsborg 1989 : 315 ; Sugreto 1996 : 42 ; S. Rinauro, “L’indagine di mercato in Italia tra primo e (...)
  • 39 Falabrino 1989 : 156.
  • 40 G. Pesavento, “Dov’era la pubblicità italiana”, L’Ufficio Moderno, special issue of the journal for (...)

21This evolution of the economy and of consumption gave new impetus to advertising. In June 1945, some member of the advertising community in Milan called an assembly and only a year later the Unione Italiana Pubblicità was born. It was formed by a merger between the Associazione Agenzie e Assuntori di Pubblicità and the Associazione Tecnici e Artisti Pubblicitari, and in 1947 changed its name in to the Federazione Italiana della Pubblicità (the Italian Federation of the Advertising).36 When the US productivity drive officially arrived in Italy, the Italian population seemed ready for the message being promoted. In the words of the President of the Federazione in 1958, advertising was “a preliminary condition for a general increase of the standard of life and a constantly active factor in social and technological progress”.37 Terminology and managerial techniques and skills that in the inter-war period seemed ‘too American’– in a sense, exotic or like an alien, in comparison with the culture of the country – now acquired a fresh impetus. ‘Management’, ‘marketing’, ‘market research’, ‘polls’ and ‘public relations’ became not only words in common use but also concrete skills and methods of doing business.38 Advertising firms found new opportunities. Big US and UK operators opened branches in Italy: Lever International Advertising Service in 1948, Thomson (which worked also for the Marshall Plan), the English firm C. P. V. in 1951, and later, at the end of the decade, McCann Erikson and Young & Rubicam. Their arrival also meant the death of several old Italian ‘artisanal’ advertising firms, which were not familiar with marketing-oriented services, psychological research, art-directors, copywriters and account executives.39 Other decisive contributions to the complete technical evolution of the advertising System in Italy were provided by those Italian big firms that already had advertising departments, as well as a number of highly specialised Italian technicians (Pestelli, Zveteremich, Weiss, Sinisgalli and Castellani, etc.).40

  • 41 IV, 2001.
  • 42 p. 19-23.
  • 43 [Anon.], “Bozza quinquennale 1965-1969”, Mondo economico, 27,1964, Supplement, p. XVII.
  • 44 Camera dei Deputati, IV Legislatura, D. d. L. n. 2457, “Approvazione delle finalità e delle linee d (...)

22Throughout this period, the Government had an ambivalent attitude towards advertising. It used it during reconstruction and to popularise its achievements. Indeed, during the 1950’s, the Italian State Institute for Foreign Trade became one of the most active players in promoting Italian products abroad, regularly and extensively deploying State of the art advertising methods.41 On the other hand, the catholic culture which inspired the government did not consider advertising a normal instrument of the firm, a routine way to gain a portion of the market. The costs of advertising were not taken into consideration when firms had to pay taxes: the law did not permit their deduction, as was possible with other costs.42 Even in 1964, when Italy was experiencing its economic miracle and the concrete effects of advertising were there for all to see, the main document of the government on the economic development of the country (called the Five Year Economic Programme for the period 1965-69) declared that it was necessary to limit “excessive expansion” of advertising costs by giving the consumer “the possibility to make his choice basing it on objective elements”.43 One year later, when presenting the law for the next Five Year Economic Programme, the government announced that its intention was to “limit the excessive expansion of the costs for advertising and especially of those forms of advertising which have the effect to mislead the choices of the consumer from the criteria of the economic convenience, thus reducing in practice his freedom”.44 An apparent ultra-liberalism hid intense prejudices against consumption as a whole, based on values that were disappearing, in a country where the role of the Church, the rural areas and their culture was dramatically diminishing. But the force of those values was not completely eliminated, a situation that was also true of other forms of résistance against the growth of the mass consumption and the diffusion of new consumer’s myths. Between 1950 and 1964, advertising investment grew, in real terms, twice as fast as national income. Nevertheless, in 1960 Italy still remained last among OECD countries in terms of advertising expenditure and the ratio between this factor and the most important economic indicators (national income, per capita national income, private consumption), as Tables 1 and 2 (below) show. Advertising had come a long way, but there was still far to go.

Table 1. Advertising investments, national income, private consumption (1950-1973) (current billion Italian Lira)

Table 1. Advertising investments, national income, private consumption (1950-1973) (current billion Italian Lira)

Source: V. Marchianò, “Venticinque anni di investimenti pubblicitari in Italia”, Cento anni di pubblicità nello sviluppo economico e nel costume italiano, vol. II, Turin, Sipra, 1974.

Table 2. Advertising investments in some market economies in 1960

Table 2. Advertising investments in some market economies in 1960

Source: G. Bocchino, “Il traguardo dei cento miliardi”, Notiziario SIPRA, 1,1962, p. 27.

Bibliographie

*

[Anon.] 1912. “Buona e cattiva pubblicità”, L’impresa moderna, 1.

[Anon.] 1932. “ACME. Decennale 1922-1932”, L’Ufficio Moderno, 7-8.

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Notes

1 P. Ginsborg, Storia d'Italia dal dopoguerra ad oggi. Società e politica 1943-1988, Turin, Einaudi, 1989, p. 237 ; P. P. Pasolini, Scritti corsari, Milan, Garzanti, 1990, p. 59.

2 V. Castronovo, “Cultura e società industriale”, Quaderni di industria e sindacato, Atti del convegno Intersind “Cultura e società industriale oggi in Italia”, vol. I, 1980, p. 38-49.

3 G. Fabris, La pubblicità. Teorie e prassi, Milan, Angeli, 1992, p. 56 ff.

4 F. Alberoni, Consumi e società, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1964, p. 159-172 ; G. L. Falabrino, Pubblicità serva padrona, Milan, Edizioni del Sole-24 Ore, 1989, p. 29-32.

5 A. Valeri, Pubblicità italiana. Storia, protagonisti e tendenze di cento anni di comunicazione, Milan, Edizioni del Sole 24 Ore, 1986, p. 19-32.

6 G. Benelli, “Lo sviluppo storico-economico della pubblicità in Italia”, L’Ufficio moderno, 9, 1953, p. 60; B. Caizzi, “Il commercio al minuto nell’età moderna”, Mercati e consumi. Organizzazione e qualificazione del commercio in Italia dal XII al XX secolo, a cura dell’Istituto Formazione Operatori Aziendali, Bologna, Edizioni Analisi, 1986, p. 586; F. Gaeta, “La crisi di fine secolo e l’età giolittiana”, Storia d'Italia, vol. IV, Turin, Utet, 1982, p. 3; N. Rossi, A. Sorgato, and G. Toniolo, “I conti economici italiani: una ricostruzione statistica 1890-1990”, Rivista di storia economica, 1, 1994.

7 P. Hertner, “La Germania alla conquista del mercato italiano tra gli anni ottanta e la vigilia della prima guerra mondiale”, Mercati e consumi, 1986, pp. 201-209; Benelli 1960 : 60.

8 Valeri 1986: 22; A. Valeri, “Appunti per una storia della pubblicità in Italia”, I prodotti di marca, 4, 1969, p. 224; [anon.], In Tram. Storia e miti dei trasporti pubblici milanesi, Milan, Electa, 1982, p. 7.

9 I. Weiss, La Manzoni, una famiglia, in Cento anni della Manzoni & C. attraverso immagini di vita e di costume 1863-1963, Milan, L’Ufficio Moderno, 1963, p. 7 ; E. T. Brioschi, Elementi di economia e tecnica della pubblicità, vol. I, Milan, Vita e Pensiero, 1964, p. 156 ff ; Valeri 1986 : 24.

10 Brioschi 1964 : 159 ; Falabrino 1989 : 124.

11 Brioschi 1964 : 172-176 ; P. Cirio, Carlo e Camillo Gancia. Strategie industriali 1850-1935, Cavallermaggiore, Gribaudo Editore, 1990 ; Alfa Romeo, 70 anni di immagini, Milan, Edizioni Alfa Romeo, 1980.

12 Brioschi 1964 : 177 ; [Anon.], “Buona e cattiva pubblicità”, L’Impresa moderna, 1,1912, p. 29 ff.

13 C. Cassola, La réclame dal punto di vista economico, Turin, Bocca, 1906 ; G. Prezzolini, L’arte di persuadere, Florence, F. Lumachi, 1907. In 1919 another journalist published a book, introducing it as the “ABC of advertising”. He explained: “This book is not a sum of ideas about réclame, but of facts. It teaches how to do it according to the Anglo-American methods, i.e. according to the modern experimental method”. See P. Cavalli, La spada dell'America, Milan, Fratelli Treves Editori, 1919.

14 P. Hertner, Il capitale tedesco in Italia dall'Unità alla prima guerra mondiale. Banche miste e sviluppo economico italiano, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1984 ; G. P. Cesarani, Storia della pubblicità in Italia, Rome-Bari, Laterza, 1988, p. 31 ff.

15 F. Amatori and A. Colli, Impresa e industria in Italia dall’Unità a oggi, Venice, Marsilio, 1999.

16 F. Guarneri, Battaglie economiche fra le due guerre, Milan, Rizzoli, 1953, vol. I, p. 274.

17 V. Castronovo, Storia economica d’Italia. Dall'Ottocento ai giorni nostri, Turin, Einaudi, 1995, p. 281-282.

18 E. Ciancl, Nascita dello Stato imprenditore, Milan, Mursia, 1977.

19 E. Rossi, I padroni del vapore, Bari, Laterza, 1955, p. 157.

20 V. Dagnino, I cartelli industriali nationale e internazionali, Turin, Bocca, 1928.

21 Rossi 1955 : 157-158. Rossi added that in the four volumes semi-official Dizionario di politica, edited by the Fascist National Party, Rome, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome, 1940 it was stressed that it was a big mistake to give the same meaning to the words cartel and consortia, because “cartels are the expression of the spirit of the capitalism, they are instruments through whom the entrepreneurs try to get the biggest gains, and they exercise an anti-social action. While the obligatory consortia must inspire their action to public interest or, to be more precise, they must subordinate the interests of the firms who are members of the consortia to the general interest of the national economy” (p. 160).

22 The word consortia – a translation of the Italian word consorzio – was understood to mean a group of companies engaged in the same type of business or economic activity, all of which were bound by a written agreement regulating competition and so on - in reality, exactly the same as a cartel.

23 N. Caimi, Perché e come si deve fare la pubblicità in Italia, Turin, ILI, 1950, p. 155.

24 R. Petrini, “L’azienda giudicata : la Montecatini tra mito, immagine e valore simbolico”, in F. Amatori and B. Bezza (eds.), Montecatini 1888-1966. Capitoli di storia di una grande impresa, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1990.

25 F. Monteleone, La radio nel periodo fascista, Venice, Marsilio, 1976, p. 37; F. Ballotta and F. Brigida, Radio e pubblicità, Turin, Gruppo Editoriale Forma, 1982, p. 29-32; D. Forgacs, L'industrializzazione della cultura italiana 1880-1990, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1992, p. 94–101.

26 Cesarari 1988: 141; P. Boschi, “La pubblicità”, in G. Gallo (ed.), Sulla bocca di tutti. Buitoni e Perugina, una storia in breve, Milan, Electa, 1994, p. 94-96.

27 R. Tremelloni, “Un lungo tratto di strada (1926-1966)”, L'Ufficio Moderno, 5, 1976, special issue for the 50 th anniversary of the journal.

28 L. Lenti, “Nascita, vita e morte del G.A.R.”, L’Ufficio Moderno, 1976; D. Villani, La pubblicità ai tempi di Madison Avenue, in Cento anni di pubblicità nello sviluppo economico e nel costume italiano, vol. II, Turin, Sipra, 1974, p. 362.

29 [Anon.], “ACME. Decennale 1922-1932”, L'Ufficio Moderno, 7-8, 1932, p. 416 ff ; Brioschi 1964 : 214.

30 Brioschi 1964: 215-221.

31 P.P. D’Attorre, “Anche noi possiamo essere prosperi. Aiuti ERP e politiche della produttività negli anni ‘50”’, Quaderni storici, 58,1985 ; S. Chillè, “Il Productivity and Assistance Programm per l’economia italiana (1949-1954) : accettazione e resistenze ai progetti statunitensi di rinnovamento del sistema produttivo nazionale”, Annali della Fondazione Pastore, 1993 ; L. Segreto, “Americanizzare o modernizzare l’economia ? Progetti americani e sisposte italiane negli anni Cinquanta e Sessanta”, Passato e Presente, 37, 1996 ; L. Segreto, Sceptics and ungrateful friends v. dreaming social engeneers. The Italian business community, the Italian government, the United States and the Comitato nazionale per la Produttività, in T. R. Gourvish and N. Tlratsoo (eds.), Missionaries and Managers : American influences on European Management Education, 1945-60, Manchester, MUP, 1998 ; A. Ardvisson, “Pubblicità e consumi nell’Italia del dopoguerra”, Contemporanea, 4, 2001, p. 654-655.

32 S. Gundle, “L’americanizzazione del quotidiano. Televisione e consumismo nell’Italia degli anni Cinquanta”, Quaderni Storici, 60,1986.

33 Ibid., p. 572 ; see also S. Gundle, I comunisti italiani tra Hollywood e Mosca. LA sfida della cultura di massa (1943-1991), Florence, Giunti, 1995.

34 Gundle 1986 : 581. The arrivai of US popular music, and especially rock and roll and Elvis Presley, together with US movie heroes like Marion Brando and James Dean, are other evident phenomena that help to expain the same trend (M. Gazzzola, Rock. Cultura subcultura controcultura, Florence, Edi Libra, 1994, p. 41-53).

35 Ginsborg 1989 : 325.

36 Valeri 1986 : 86-91.

37 I. M. Lombardo, Produttività e pubblicità, in Atti del V Congresso Nazionale della Pubblicità, Milan, F.I.P., 1958, p. 113-116. Some years before Roberto Tremelloni, a founder of G.R.A. in the 1930’s and one of the most preminent scholar and politician supporting advertising, wrote that the advertising community was a sort of “referee and first assistant of the consumer” (quoted in Ardvisson 2001 : 656).

38 Ginsborg 1989 : 315 ; Sugreto 1996 : 42 ; S. Rinauro, “L’indagine di mercato in Italia tra primo e secondo dopoguerra : alle origini della razionalizzazione della distribuzione”, Impresa e storia, 21, 2000, p. 13-60 ; S. Rlnauro, “Il sondaggio d’opinione arriva in Italia, 1936-1946”, Passato e Presente, 53, 2001.

39 Falabrino 1989 : 156.

40 G. Pesavento, “Dov’era la pubblicità italiana”, L’Ufficio Moderno, special issue of the journal for its 50th anniversary, 1976, p. 659. For the Fiat case and the role of Gino Pestelli see F. Fasce, “Voglia di automobile. Fiat e pubblicità negli anni del dopoguerra”, Contemporanea,

41 IV, 2001.

D. P. Balint, “Le attività pubblicitarie e propagandistiche dell’I.C.E.”, Publirama Italiano, 1963,

42 p. 19-23.

A. Bertelè, Esenzione fiscale per le spese di pubblicità, in Atti del III Congresso nazionale della Pubblicità, Rome, F.I.P., 1952, p. 164.

43 [Anon.], “Bozza quinquennale 1965-1969”, Mondo economico, 27,1964, Supplement, p. XVII.

44 Camera dei Deputati, IV Legislatura, D. d. L. n. 2457, “Approvazione delle finalità e delle linee direttive generali del programma di sviluppo per il quinquennio 1965-1969”.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1. Advertising investments, national income, private consumption (1950-1973) (current billion Italian Lira)
Légende Source: V. Marchianò, “Venticinque anni di investimenti pubblicitari in Italia”, Cento anni di pubblicità nello sviluppo economico e nel costume italiano, vol. II, Turin, Sipra, 1974.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1945/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 136k
Titre Table 2. Advertising investments in some market economies in 1960
Légende Source: G. Bocchino, “Il traguardo dei cento miliardi”, Notiziario SIPRA, 1,1962, p. 27.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1945/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 102k

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