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Stéphanie Le Gallic

From sci-fi to reality: when advertisement reaches the heavens

Le Temps des médias n° 27, Automne-Hiver 2016-2017, p. 153-169.


At the end of the XIXth century, several science fiction short stories approached the theme of “celestial advertising”, in other words the bright projection of advertisements on clouds, reduced to the state of screens. These texts are to be replaced in a double technical and social context. Indeed, the magic lantern, developed in the XVIIth century and perfected over the following decades, was popularized in the XIXth century, when the nightlife gathered a new crowd. The use of the magic lantern allowed advertising when it would not have otherwise been visible to night-time passers-by in the ambient darkness. Crossing the primal cinema and the beginning of the illuminated advertising, the conquest of the sky by advertising was then put into practice by advertising executives, both in Europe and in the United States, first at the turning point of the XXth century, then in the 1930s. This literal reading of these short stories, nevertheless dystopian, offers an example of footbridge between literature and advertising, which did not endure. The article examines the reasons thereof.

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