Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I have looked high and low for some reference to citing television ads in your manual, and have not found a single one. How would one cite a television commercial as part of an article’s running text, and in the references section as well?

A. There is no provision for citing television advertisements in The Chicago Manual of Style. TV ads are in a sense part of the public experience and a matter of historical record. Say you are describing the advertisement for the Volkswagen Golf that features the Styx song “Mr. Roboto.” It is a piece of popular media that you are describing and need not be cited—description suffices. It is not a matter of leading a reader to a specific source that can be obtained from a public archive (though you might be able to find a copy on YouTube). Should there be an occasion on which you did need to provide a reference citation, you could do something like this:

Volkswagen. “Crazy Guy.” Television advertisement. Arnold Communications, Inc., directed by Phil Morrison, 2000.

But you would have to have that information (the ad won an ANDY, and information about it became readily available online, from a variety of reputable sources).