CFP: Etudes de communication 51

Advertisements from the Past: Uses and Reactualisations of Advertising Artifacts

Edited by Simona De Iulio (GERiiCO, University of Lille, Humanities and Social Sciences) and Carlo Vinti (SAAD, Architecture and Design School, University of Camerino)

The upcoming thematic issue of Etudes de communication will focus on the phenomenon of advertising from the past that survives into the present. In particular, this issue will address the following question: what happens to advertising artifacts once they have fulfilled their marketing function?

Posters, press advertisements, advertising gadgets, packaging, TV commercials as well as various on-line advertising devices are all created in order to respond to an immediate need: launching a product, repositioning a brand, increasing the visibility of services, etc. The goal of such advertising objects is to stimulate a response within a limited time frame. These devices are ephemeral artifacts, or at least, they are considered as such by the professionals who design and produce them, by the media which diffuse them and by the advertisers whose brands and products they promote. Advertising artifacts are not addressed to future generations, they are not conceived with the intent to be organized into a space of permanence, nor are they destined to last once they have achieved their commercial and marketing objectives. However, as of the second half of the 19th century, a considerable number of advertising artifacts survived their short-term commercial mission. Such artifacts, through the processes of documentarization, reuse and recontextualization, have been enriched, transformed and made available to new interpretations.

A vast body of literature has been produced which considers advertising as a combination of practices, actors and communication artifacts, at the intersection of commerce, culture and society. Yet the issues raised by the permanence of advertising artifacts into the present remain unexplored, apart from a few exceptional studies exploring company museums, the « artification » of graphic design objects and the digitization of poster collections. The scarcity of scholarly work on this topic is all the more surprising when one considers that the earliest operations of safeguard, cataloguing, restoration and valorization of advertising artifacts coincided with the birth of modern advertising itself. By the second half of 19th century, posters began to attract the attention of collectors and art dealers, and were exhibited in art galleries and reproduced in decorative arts magazines.

Since its origins, various functions have been assigned to advertising which go well beyond its commercial scope. Artists and designers belonging to movements such as Art Nouveau, Futurism and Constructivism considered graphic design and advertising as a means to bring art into daily life  as well as a means to democratize the aesthetic experience. Subsequently, other advertising artifacts such as TV commercials have been recognized as having artistic and entertaining value, as attested by events such as La nuit des publivores, an annual tribute to the best television commercials in the world. Yet the survival of advertising into the present is not limited to artifacts deemed to be masterpieces of graphic design or successful examples of professional creativity.
Even ordinary and anonymous productions have become part of poster and graphics collections and have found their way into heritage institutions, which in turn participate in the construction of the memorial value of such artifacts.

Today, the survival of advertising artifacts from the past has taken on massive proportions. Originals and reproductions of historic advertising artifacts reappear in a wide variety of spaces: from museum exhibition rooms to store interiors, from secondhand bookstores to antique and souvenir shops, from book and multimedia collections to social networks.

This phenomenon raises a wide range of questions:

  • what uses of advertising artifacts from the past can we identify?
  • Who are the actors involved in these processes?
  • To what extent and with what objectives can advertising texts and images be creatively revived and put back into circulation?
  • How can we interpret the growing attention given by different social actors to advertising from the past?
  • What kind of memory is activated by advertising artifacts of the past?
  • What impact do digital devices and digitization have upon the uses and reappropriations of advertising artifacts from the past?

This thematic issue seeks contributions which address these questions by exploring the following topics:

  • Heritage institution actors’ strategies and practices of cataloguing, conservation, valorization and mediation. The aim here is to investigate the role that library, museum, archive and information professionals play in redefining the uses of advertising from the past. To what extent do operations of documentarization and redocumentarization – especially in the context of digitization programs – constitute turning points for rethinking the status and the qualities of advertising artifacts from the past?
  • Creative and cultural industry professionals’ uses of advertising artifacts from the past.
  • Collections of advertising artifacts from the past provide audiovisual industry professionals with repositories of content. Such collections also constitute an important source of inspiration for communication professionals such as graphic designers, art directors and copywriters. At a time when on-line digitized publicity archives continue to multiply, the different operations of quotation, redesign and rewriting of advertising materials from the past deserve consideration and analysis.
  • Another possible area of exploration is that of the uses of publicity artifacts by companies seeking to valorize their own history. By adopting so-called « corporate heritage » strategies, such companies reactivate the marketing function of old advertisements in new ways.
  • Amateur practices and uses. The issue to be considered here is how non professional actors develop a passion for advertising artifacts from the past. Contributions can focus on collectors’ and amateurs’ cataloguing, storing and archiving practices, as well as their production and mediation of knowledge about advertising artifacts.
  • Papers can also address amateurs’ creative reuse and reworking of advertising artifacts, as well as the forms and processes of recontextualization and re-circulation of artifacts in digital and non digital environments.
  • Uses of advertising as traces of the past. For scholars interested in the history of mentalities, the history of daily life, or business and economic history, advertising artifacts are rich but also problematic “sources”. Such artifacts represent a privileged object of study for media and communication historians and for art and design historians. Moreover, advertising images, considered as traces of the values and knowledge of a given society, are often put to pedagogical use along with other didactic resources, by history teachers.
  • What methodological and epistemological questions are raised by the use of advertising artifacts as historical sources?
  • What problems does such use pose with respect to the practices of reconstructing, narrating and teaching history?

Scientific Committee [to be confirmed]

Karine Berthelot-Guiet, CELSA Paris Sorbonne
Maddalena Dalla Mura, Research Group Design and museology, IUAV Venise
Emanuele Coccia, EHESS, Paris
Franck Cochoy, University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès
Vanni Codeluppi, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Michèle Gellereau, University of Lille Humanities and Social Sciences
Ruth E. Iskin, Dept. of the Arts, Ben-Gurion University
Yves Jeanneret, CELSA Paris Sorbonne
Annick Lantenois, École supérieure d’art et design, Valence
Caroline Marti, CELSA Paris Sorbonne
Katharina Niemeyer, UQAM Ecole des médias Montréal
Céline Paganelli, University Paul Valéry – Montpellier
Alexandra Saemmer, University of Paris 8
Cécile Tardy, University of Lille Humanities and Social Sciences
Matteo Treleani, University of Lille Humanities and Social Sciences



All submissions will go through a two-part review process:

1. Submission of a 1500-2000 word abstract which should include a presentation of objectives and principle arguments, explain the originality of the paper and provide key bibliographical references,

2. For accepted abstracts, a second evaluation will take place for final papers (30.000-40.000 characters including spaces).

Papers will be peer-reviewed by at least two anonymous referees. Instructions for authors are available at the journal homepage

Proposals and full papers may be submitted in French, English or Italian.

Abstracts should be submitted in Word (.doc) or PDF and sent to the following email addresses:,



November 8, 2017: Abstract submission deadline

December 15, 2017: Notification of acceptance

March 15, 2018: Preliminary version of article due

June 15, 2018: Final version of accepted article due

December 2018: Publication date (paper and digital)