Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys...

"[T]he paramount function of advertising pictures is to attract reader-attention," writes Mark Wiseman. "The problem of the AD and art buyer is to choose the kinds of pictures that will attract the desired audience."

"Before reader-research had amassed evidence about the kinds of pictures that attracted readers of various types, the only criteria of choice were subjective preference or empirical deduction. It is still very necessary to use these criteria, but we now have a considerable body of data that helps us to use them more intelligently and with a greater degree of certainty."

"The following list of Picture Subjects Most Interesting to Men is made up from analytical studies of readership reports gathered over a period of nearly 20 years:"

Men and women (provided the man or men be more prominent than the woman or women)
Mechanical products and apparatus
Diagrams and maps
Liquor bottles and drinking accessories
Sports scenes and equipment
Dogs, horses and other animals usually owned or used primarily by men
Game animals
Scenes showing conflict

"Don't expect to attract many men with pictures of children or domestic situations. Men chiefly like scenes of masculine action and pictures of the things they use or might use."

"The annual Christmas joke about the little boy who cries because his father hogs his electric train has a point for advertisers; men love mechanical things."

From "Reader Research and the Art Director's Job" in the March 1952 issues of Art Director and Studio News.


  1. So, between 1932 and 1952, women (without men) weren't considered a Picture Subject Most Interesting to Men? Yeah, I guess pictures of machines and big game were much more interesting...

  2. Haha... well, the author does qualify that these are the picture subjects most interesting to men, based on the 20 years of research he's drawing upon... but I'm sure pictures of women - "the kind men like" - were always of interest as well. ;-)

  3. I suppose this was also a list for "respectable" magazines, too. And since it was based on what readers reported, maybe that has something to do with it, too.

  4. I love the Lionel Train ad... great headline. I know a lot of guys that like model trains, and I know only one women... my wife. Yep, she told me she has always wanted a model train, seriously. When I suggested we go to the store and buy one, she said our 3 cats would probably think it was their new toy, which wouldn't be a good idea... instead she bought a sewing machine. Well, they both have mechanical parts, don't they? Also, my wife thinks that advertising campaigns have gotten so bad, that she shops the catalogues. Yep, I certainly agree! I rarely see advertising in magazines or on TV, that targets us anymore... except for those products and services that we already have... like life insurance. So far, I have to agree with Mark Wiseman... he’s a "wise man" about advertising.

    Tom Watson
    P.S. Hey Chris, where do you suggest I take my sensitivity training course... in Tennessee?

  5. Great train ad and illustration but, man, I would kill for an adult-size pair of those pajamas that kid is sporting! Way cool! :)