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Landscapes of Capital | About the Ad Archive
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About the Ad Archive

This site features an archive of television ads, which formed the basis for the book Landscapes of Capital, written by Robert Goldman & Stephen Papson. This collection of 712 television ads covering the time period from 1995 to 2010 includes the first installment of the roughly 2400 ads that formed the collection of textual materials underlying our research project. The next stage of developing this archive will add more of those ads into the collection. Another 20,000+ TV consumer goods ads may follow that.

Most of the television ads in this collection were initially recorded on videotape from television broadcasts. Most of the material gathered in this archive comes from tape recording made off-the-air of major U.S. networks (CBS, NBC) along with cable channels such as CNBC, CNN, ESPN and USA. These tapes were then translated from analog format into digital format and saved as DV files. Those files were in turn converted into .mov files using the H.264 video codec. These have been supplemented by a few television ads that were already in digital formats (.mp4). All of the audio-video texts in this archive can be played using Quicktime.

We classified the bulk of the ads collected in this dataset as “corporate” or “business” ads because they primarily pitch the corporation as opposed to retail commodities. Business ads may pitch products and services to other businesses. However these demarcations are not always perfect. Some ads also pitch commodities aimed at a general retail market, but manifest many of the representational characteristics of business ads. For instance, ads for mutual funds and automobiles fall into this category. We included these ads where they share representational formulas with other business ads and because, while they promoted commodities we felt they do more to promote the corporate brand identity.