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Advertising Through Elaborate Displays and Futuristic Ideals at World Expositions

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Commercial advertising often emphasizes and sells notions that are tangential to their actual product. The idea and associations behind an object can prove to be a more powerful and alluring sales tactic than any disclosures about the product itself. Such is the case with Walter Dorwin Teague’s Ford Cycle of Production at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. In this instance, the viewers were apparently amazed by the grandeur of the overall display and portrayal of futuristic ideals. While the viewers may have retained some of the information in the educational display, they ultimately were left in astonishment about the presentation.[1] Companies often instill their name brands in people’s heads by focusing less on the products but by making a lasting impression via ostentatious displays and futuristic notions.

At the 1939 World’s Fair, Teague designed the “Ford’s Cycles of Production,” which was considered “the most impressive display at the fair” according to The Architectural Form.[2] The display featured 87 mechanical characters that illustrated the various parts of production starting from the source of the materials. The multi-tiered exhibit rested upon a 100 foot turntable, weighing 152 tons, and floating on 20,000 gallons of water.[3] The exhibit traced the 27 raw materials through the stages of production and emphasized Ford’s pivotal role in the creation of millions of jobs.  The vast animated display was featured in the midst of Ford’s seven acres of buildings and gardens. This impressive display captivated the audience and through this truly memorable experience that creates positive and lasting associations with the Ford Company. By emphasizing their production they are also promoting the futuristic ideals of the company by showing its leading edge technology and pivotal role in stimulating the economy. In reality, however, current technology was used to create the illusion of futuristic environment, subtly hinting that all consumers had to do was make a purchase. As Jeffery Meilke wrote, “By displaying contemporary technologies and industrial process in futuristic architectural settings, commercial exhibitors implicitly stated that the future was already here if people would only realize it.”[4]

At the same World’s fair, Borden similarly attracts attention to their brand by displaying the new milking technology in their Dairy World of Tomorrow. Their forward-thinking innovation, the rotolactor, milks 50 cows every 12.5 minutes and in total 1,680 cows three times daily.[5] Impressively, the machine first bathes and dries the cows, then milks them, and sends the milk into a sealed container above that leads to the weighing and recording station. Through this method, the milk is not exposed to air, which helped insure quality and longer shelf-life.[6] Understandably viewers were impressed by with the fully mechanized system that removed humans from the direct process. It successfully promotes the company by awing the viewers with its step-by-step display as well as promoting the idea of futuristic technology. Contrary to the futuristic message, Henry Jeffer had actually invented the rotolactor nine years earlier in 1930.[7] In addition, the rotolactor was also not intended for practical use but as means of depicting the milking process in an engaging manner.[8] For the dairy industry, there is no practical reason to have the cows rotating in a merry-go-round like manner. However, this engaging display successfully imbued a typically mundane process with excitement and imagination for 8 million viewers.[9]

At the 1964 World’s Fair, Chrysler elaborately featured their engineering, production, styling and operations through a series of displays extending over five connected islands inside a six acre lake. Among its fantastical displays, Chrysler showcased a massive engine, a 100-foot car, their assembly line with its very odd imaginative features, such as a dragon snapping its jaws and a “metallic menagerie” in which various creatures were constructed of automobile parts.[10] Similar to earlier examples, the company was over-selling its technology with an imaginative combination of old images (dragons) working in concert with futuristic technologies (metallic menagerie). Beyond technology, Chrysler aimed to impress based on the sheer scale of the 100-foot car and the massive engine. By innovation and scale Chrysler appeared more innovative and cutting-edge than its competitors. In addition, the elaborateness of the five-island display made everything appear more inventive and stressed the idea of futurism.

In 1970, Toshiba also employed similar advertising methods through its exciting, over-the-top displays. Although Toshiba focuses on electronic production, their pavilion—designed by Kisho Kurokawa—reflected the futuristic architecture that was predominant at the 1970s World Fair.[11] The building itself contributed to its futuristic theme: it was composed of a dome suspended from tetra-frame with 9 theater screens suspended above a rotating circular floor.[12] While the theaters best reflect Toshiba’s brand and prod­­ucts, the main draw to the exhibit remains the spectacular architecture and overall futuristic environment. Moreover, the building is designed to glow red at night, which creates a rather spectacular view and a strong visual interest unrelated to Toshiba’s products. The screens illustrate Toshiba’s products and technology but are significantly less memorable then the futuristic architecture and the building itself.

Toyota Group Pavilion at the 2005 Worlds Exhibition in Aichi, Japan emphasizes the spectacular portrayal of the future.  In combining human interests with future advances, friendly robots warmly welcomed the visitors to the world of the future.[13] To add more of a futuristic edge, an elaborate musical production,  “The Wonders of Living and Moving Freely,” was by the Toyota Partner Robots band. The shows featured a robotic rapper, single-seater i-unit concept car, and ambulatory i-foot robots.[14] Clearly, the Toyota group distinguished themselves from other robotic presentations by creating artificial intelligence that exhibited “human” emotions, such as compassion and intelligence.[15] In addition to the innovative technology, the Toyota Group Pavilion emphasized interactivity; it actively engage visitors in the technology by transporting visitors from the two exposition sites in an unmanned hybrid fuel cell buses. Beyond displaying their fuel-efficient technology, visitors were exposed to the underlying artificial intelligence.

The futuristic trend of subtle advertising continues at the 2010 Exposition in Shanghai with Cisco’s pavilion displaying a “Smart+Connected Life.” Cisco utilizes their telepresence video conferencing technology to create connections throughout people’s daily lives for the betterment of social interactions, health, and personal security. The display captivates the visitors in a fantastical experience transporting them to the year 2020.[16] It features large curving shapes representing the connections between people and illustrates the technological impact on the futuristic Chan family. The different technologies exhibited include bracelets that monitor pregnant women and their babies, routine scans of fingerprints for instantaneous identification, and video communication freely within the Chan family and its community. [17] While this displays the company’s goals, it still remains idealistic concepts for the future. Visitors may learn minimal amounts regarding the technology but will they are likely impressed by the futuristic experience and amazed by its apparently universal connectivity.

Throughout the various exhibits, they each create significant interest and thereby successfully instill their brand in the viewer’s mind. Although the company is not directly selling their product, they are creating positive associations through the elaborate displays and notions of the future that will ultimately serve as advertising for their brand. By selling ideals and a sense of awe, the company is not limited to merely expressing their tangible product but has the freedom to incorporate intriguing concepts and visual imagery.

Work Cited

“Rotolactor” Milks 50 Cows in 12 Minutes.” Modern Mechanix . http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2008/09/10/rotolactor-milks-50-cows-in-12-minutes/ (accessed March 15, 2011).

“1964 World’s Fair – Chrysler.” Online Imperial Club (OIC) for Imperial, Chrysler Imperial, and Chrysler New Yorker Brougham Enthusiasts. http://www.imperialclub.com/ClubsAndLinks/WorldsFair/chrysler.htm (accessed March 15, 2011).

“Cisco Pavilion Shanghai World Expo 2010 – Cisco Systems.” Cisco Systems, Inc. http://www.cisco.com/web/CN/expo/en/index.html (accessed April 12, 2011).

“Cisco Pavilion the official Website of Expo 2010 Shanghai China.” Expo 2010 Shanghai China. http://en.expo2010.cn/c/en_qy_tpl_58.htm (accessed April 12, 2011).

“Ford Pavilion Exhibits at the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York.” CriticalPast.com: Historic Stock Footage and Archival Video Clips and Photo Images from the 1890s to the 1990s. http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675028518_advancement-of-city_building-of-Ford_people-watching_manufacturing-zone (accessed March 10, 2011).

Gough, Richard. 1999. On cooking. [London]: Routledge.

Jackson, Anna. 2008. Expo: International Expositions 1851-2010. London: V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum.

“Kisho Kurokawa.” Kisho Kurokawa. http://www.kisho.co.jp/page.php/211 (accessed March 20, 2011).

Meikle, Jeffrey L. 1981. Twentieth Century Limited Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

“Toyota Group Pavilion—The Dream, Joy and Inspiration of Mobility in the 21st Century.” Toyota Global. www.toyota-global.com/investors/ir_library/annual/pdf/2005/pdf/17.pdf (accessed April 10, 2011).

“Toyota Group Pavilion : Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan.” Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan. http://www.expo2005.or.jp/en/venue/pavilion_private_e.html (accessed April 10, 2011).

“Walker Gordon Farm – Official website.” Walker Gordon Farm – Official website. http://walkergordononline.com/history.asp (accessed March 10, 2011).

Paul Sigel – in German. “EXPO 2005 photo essays – weekly report from the World Exposition in Aichi, Japan.” anton rauben weiss – noise design. http://www.antonraubenweiss.com/expo/week18.html (accessed March 21, 2011).

 


[1] Jeffery L. Meikle, Twentieth Century Limited Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press),199.

[2] [2] Meilke. Twentieth Century Limited Industiral Design in America, 199.

[3] Ford Pavilion Exhibits at the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York.” CriticalPast.com, accessed March

[4] Jeffery L. Meikle, Twentieth Century Limited Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press),192.

[5] Jeffery L. Meikle, Twentieth Century Limited Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press),199.

6“Rotolactor” Milks 50 Cows in 12 Minutes.” Modern Mechanix . http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2008/09/10/rotolactor-milks-50-cows-in-12-minutes/ (accessed March 15, 2011).

[7] “Walker Gordon Farm – Official website.” Walker Gordon Farm – Official website. http://walkergordononline.com/history.asp (accessed March 10, 2011).

[8] Richard Gough, On Cooking, (London: Routledge, 1999), 115.

[9] Richard Gough, On Cooking, 115.

[10] “1964 World’s Fair – Chrysler.” Online Imperial Club (OIC) for Imperial, Chrysler Imperial, and Chrysler New Yorker Brougham Enthusiasts, accessed March 15, 2011, http://www.imperialclub.com/ClubsAndLinks/WorldsFair/chrysler.htm.

[11] “EXPO 2005 photo essays – weekly report from the World Exposition in Aichi, Japan.” anton rauben weiss – noise design, accessed March 21, 2011, http://www.antonraubenweiss.com/expo/week18.html.

[12] “Kisho Kurokawa,” accessed March 20, 2011, http://www.kisho.co.jp/page.php/211.

13“Toyota Group Pavilion: Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan,” Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan, accessed April 10, 2011, http://www.expo2005.or.jp/en/venue/pavilion_private_e.html.

14″Toyota Group Pavilion—The Dream, Joy and Inspiration of Mobility in the 21st Century.” Toyota Global, accessed April 10, 2011, www.toyota-global.com/investors/ir_library/annual/pdf/2005/pdf/17.pdf .

[15] Anna Jackson,  Expo: International Expositions 1851-2010 (London: V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2008) 113.

16 Toyota Group Pavilion : Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan,” Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan, accessed April 10, 2011, http://www.expo2005.or.jp/en/venue/pavilion_private_e.html.

17“Cisco Pavilion Shanghai World Expo 2010 – Cisco Systems.” Cisco Systems, Inc, accessed April 12, 2011, http://www.cisco.com/web/CN/expo/en/index.html.