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5 frugal lessons from the Depression

Frugal lessons from Depression-era ads
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Frugal lessons from Depression-era ads

What can advertising from the Great Depression teach us? Plenty about saving money, as it turns out. The 1920s ushered in a wave of advertising campaigns chasing the plentiful dollars of consumers. Ads created needs and desires for merchandise readily available for mass consumption. Furniture, watches, kitchen appliances and cars rolled off the production line and into consumers' homes.

"You didn't need these products for thousands of years," says Robert S. McElvaine, chairman of the Department of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and author of "The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941." With advertising, "you create a need."

Shoppers in the Roaring '20s responded to those ad campaigns by dropping a bundle of money, much like consumers of the 1990s and early 2000s.

But after the bust, advertisers realized their approach had to change as people tried to save money. Here are some of the ads of the Great Depression from magazines aimed at a pinched middle class, and the lessons we can learn for our own frugal times.


 

 

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