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Peer Review

Medicine and Madison Avenue



Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 3.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jun 03, 2008 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: Medicine and Madison Avenue is a digital collection of medicinal advertisements. This Duke University sponsored website states that it examines the association between "modern medicine and modern advertising" by providing the general public with approx. 600 medicinal advertisements from 1910-1950. The collection spans a number of product categories and companies (sometimes going outside the scope of medicine). Other information provided on the website includes: suggested classroom uses, a brief commentary on the history of medicine advertising, links for more information, and details on the collection. The website can be used at both undergrad and graduate classroom and also for research purposes. Advertising, marketing, consumer behavior, sociological, American studies. pharmaceutical, general medicine/health, direct marketing, and communication study classes could find a number of applications. This is a website developed to serve as an online resource for healthcare and personal care product advertising. The Medicine and Madison Avenue Project presents images and database information for approximately 600 health-related advertisements printed in newspapers and magazines. These ads illustrate the variety and evolution of personal care and healthcare product advertising from 1910 through 1950.
Type of Material: Collection
Recommended Uses: The material can be used both in and out of the classroom. Material can be used as the basis for research, class discussion, independent assignments and study, and team work.
Technical Requirements: Browser
Identify Major Learning Goals: The site should serve as a resource for students exploring the history and evolution of advertising and communication of healthcare and personal care products.
Target Student Population: This material would be appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students in principles of marketing, advertising, public relations and healthcare marketing. This reference site could be useful in possibly any marketing course.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The site author has spent a great deal of time transforming hard copies of advertisements and documentation related to healthcare and personal care products to digital format. Further, it is all available via the web and can be viewed without any additional software. The quality of the material (legibility, view etc) is outstanding. Instructors could use this site for a variety of marketing and advertising courses. The bibliography for further reading is comprehensive and would also be useful for a variety of topics. Interesting collection of advertisements. Well organized. Nice commentary is provided with a cultural context.
Concerns: Although this is an informative resource, the site is somewhat static and not interactive. Some students may have difficulty navigating this site if they do not have the particular title of an advertisement or product related communication. The reference section of the site is very brief for the amount of material it supports, and the references are dated from 1984-2001. Currency is an issue. Ideally, the collection could be larger and spanning more years. For some of the product categories there are very few (esp. cigarettes) advertisements. I would have also liked more discussion, more examples of how this has been used within the classroom or for research.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The website provides learning objectives and some ideas as to how to integrate this within a classroom. The greatest advantage of this site is that the instructor can adapt it to any type of marketing course, specifically a course focusing on marketing communications or healthcare marketing. The quality of the images and text is outstanding and would readily adapt to projection in a traditional classroom, or be especially appropriate for online course use.
Concerns: To fully appreciate and understand the relationship between advertising and medicine during this time - a student needs more guidance than what the website provides. The collection offers some great exmaples, yet without a narrative, relationship to specific class and conceptual concepts its impact on learning will be limited. This site is an external resource or supplement to existing course material. Instructors would need to develop learning objectives as they relate to the particular subject they are teaching (ex: marketing communications, advertising and promotion, etc).

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The site is comprehensive and contains a great deal of material. The quality of the images and text is excellent and appealing. Easy to navigate.
Concerns: Although the site can be navigated and explored independently, the site is not engaging. Upon access, there is a side menu to the left with a few brief categories, but students would need to explore these categories to find what they might be looking for. These categories are broad and may not be indicative of the material students seek. In order to minimize search time, students will need to have actual titles, names etc in order to search for specific material (for example the Listerine ad campaign.) I wish that the navigation to the collection was more obvious.