In 1929 the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), a leading North American advertising agency, opened an office in São Paulo. JWT’s founding of a Brazilian subsidiary emerged from a decade’s worth of discussion of how to increase North American exports and of what role advertising would play in this expansion. Manufacturers, advertising executives, and representatives of key sectors of the U.S. government took part in these discussions through articles in the nation’s leading trade publications and participation in conferences on the subject. These businessmen and bureaucrats envisioned exports and overseas advertising as a way to guarantee the nation’s future prosperity, protect and extend North American economic power, and raise backward regions to the economic and cultural level of the United States, then immersed in the triumphalist consumerism of its Second Industrial Revolution.

The General Motors Corporation (GM) was an early adherent to the...

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