Austin Benedetto

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Photo credit: Tommy Larson

Junior Austin Benedetto’s historical research was inspired by the hit AMC drama Mad Men. The show takes place in the 1950s and is centered around “ad men” (people who work in advertising) on Madison Avenue in New York City. 

His interest in research combined with his recent viewing of Mad Men prompted Austin’s pitch to “learn more about the time period of advertising [in which the show takes place].” 

After doing research over the summer and in the beginning of the school year, he noticed the similarities between advertising and propaganda, and shifted focus to learn about the role of propaganda in the United States during World War II. 

Austin determined that “advertising agencies of the time used the national need for engagement [in the war effort] to their advantage.” By doing propaganda work for next to no money, agencies set the stage for the extreme influence that they would have in the two decades following World War II.

In history classes that are often tasked with covering content spanning hundreds of years, Austin would not have been able to explore his topic as deeply and specifically. Moreover, this project has offered a unique experience in that he unilaterally has the creative license to design his own argument and topic. 

In Austin’s case, his inspiration stemmed from something meaningful and important to him: Mad Men. 

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