Peanuts work for the government again

The AAUGH.com library has just been bestowed with a copy of The American Economic System… and your part in it, a 20-page 8.5″ x 11″ pamphlet that was put out in 1975. It was a joint production of The Advertising Council (the private non-profit that puts together most of the major public service ad campaigns) and the Department of Commerce with the help of the Department of Labor. Looking at the cover with the bicentennial-themed ribbon-and-medal design, you wouldn’t think that Peanuts had anything to do with the economy… but a look inside will quickly disabuse you of that notion. There you will find a couple dozen Peanuts images scattered throughout. It looks to be made of some standard Peanuts decoration images of the day and individual panels taken from strips. Then, you look a bit closer, and find that while some panels are genuinely taken from strips, others have dialogue never seen in Peanuts — or probably any other comic. “I’m switching to something with more personal income!” says Linus.

This pamphlet got some attention at the time, not all of it good. In 1977, College English magazine ran an article criticizing the pamphlet’s content… and they couldn’t resist poking a little fun at the use of Peanuts in the title of the article. “‘The American Economic System’: The Gospel According to the Advertising Council”, an invocation of the title of the best-selling The Gospel According to Peanuts.

This isn’t the only time the Advertising Council would use Peanuts. The Council also produces the Smokey Bear ad campaign material, and once used Smokey and Snoopy together on a bookmark (and possibly other materials; I only know of the bookmark.)

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