Students Staff

28 November 2013

Insight into world of the UK’s ‘Mad Men’ and the impact of the advertising boom of the 1950s and 1960s

Professor Sean Nixon will give an insight into the advertising world of the 1950s and 1960s in the latest Professorial Inaugural Lecture at the University of Essex on Monday 2 December titled Trading on Human Weakness: Advertising and its Critics in the 1950s and 60s.

The arrival of commercial television and new forms of advertising transformed the way products and services were marketed and stimulated an almost obsessive fascination with and scrutiny of the advertising industry.

The popularity of the series Mad Men has renewed interest in this period and shown how the advertising industry in the United States reflected changes in the wider society. The UK experience is just as revealing about social change and Professor Nixon will investigate how advertising of this period provoked antipathy and criticisms while also outlining the responses of the industry’s more articulate spokesmen.

Professor Nixon feels these exchanges take us to the heart of social changes associated with post-war affluence and the booming consumer economy, and the competing ideas of human motivations and desires.

He points out the ideas of self-expression and hedonism promoted by advertising often rubbed up against puritan principles of self-control and self-improvement. But, he also argues these tensions remain within contemporary society as we seek to balance the ‘will to want’ and consumerist definitions of the good life with the social and environmental costs of unbridled consumerism.

The lecture starts at 6pm on Monday 2 December in the Lakeside Theatre at the Colchester Campus of the University of Essex.

For more information go to:


Notes to Editors

For more information or to speak to Professor Sean Nixon please call 01206 874377 or email:

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