Record #555

Record Type:
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
MPPDA (members)
Reel 6
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Advertising - bad

Hays emphasizes the extreme importance of eliminating salacious advertising, especially in the light of the Trade Practices Conference and impending legislation. He gives a long list of example of untenable ads, and suggests the formation of a committee of studio representatives to combat bad ads. [Such a committee is formed -- membership on file. Note that Hays also wrote to New York company heads on 8 June 1929 re bad advertising; other relevant correspondence is also included.]


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6 June1929 Hays to heads of companies re bad advertising: The resolution against it is part of the FTC conference record "as a governing factor in the conduct of this industry. "In spite of that pledge, there has been recently a deluge of advertising of such a salacious nature as to jeopardize the investments of all the companies, whether their particular advertising departments are guilty or not. Much of the legislative trouble in this country today is occasioned by shortsighted salacious advertising. "In addition to the legislative worries, advertising is causing censor boards, particularly in municipalities, to ban showings of pictures which ordinarily would escape serious censure." -- e.g. a censorship bill in New Jersey has become an issue because of a First National poster for a Dorothy Mackail film and the editor of one of the fan magazines stopped his presses because of one advert."One of the most important and influential newspapers in Washington, D.C. -- where the Brookhart Bill stares you in the face, where a federal censorship Bill is introduced with each new Congress, where the FMPC maintains a lobby against your interests, and where more newspaper correspondents are assembled than in any other city in the world -- informs me that it continually and repeatedly has to turn down motion picture advertising because it is "too filthy for our standards of what a self-respecting newspaper should carry." That same newspaper, because of those very advertisements, has editorially urged the need of federal censorship not because of the contents of pictures, but because of the advertising and flashy titles. "... It is suggested that the real trouble lies with a very limited number of your employees who are too "close to Broadway." We must remember that the brashness, frankness, and vulgarity, which too often is confused with sophistication, is not acceptable to the cities and towns which make up the bulk of your business." Cites two pages of examples."When the registration system for title of plots was first advanced, all of us were a little disturbed lest some competitive values should be lost. It is a history that all of you know. You all also know that none of the expected misfortunes occurred. The system has worked with benefit to everyone concerned and is now an accepted part of the machinery of this industry. "When Colonel Joy went out to Hollywood there were even graver fears. I do not know where we would be today if it were not for the farseeing willingness of the companies to undertake a form of cooperation which I know seemed to some of the best brains in the industry to smack somewhat of restriction. We have not brought all our pictures into line with the highest standards of public taste. But we have made sufficient progress to enable your association successfully to prevent confiscatory unjust and unfair legislation. Furthermore, we have done whatever has been done without the slightest injury to the independence, the artistic ability or the creative genius of our producing units. As to what has been accomplished from the standpoint of profit and loss by the Hollywood work, I can only point to the release of the 101 pictures in the cases of which Colonel Joy was consulted from beginning to end during 1928. These pictures are not causing you loss through wholesale censor cuts. "Possibly the time has now come to apply the same principle of common sense cooperation to the problem of the advertising of motion pictures. We must bring the advertising of the industry into line with its other component parts."

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