Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture: Advertising's Impact on American Character and Society / Edition 4

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Now in its fourth edition, the popular Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture is an engaging cultural studies critique of contemporary advertising and its impacts on American society. Arthur Asa Berger looks at marketing strategies, sex and advertising, consumer culture, political advertising, and communication theory and process to give an accessible overview of advertising in America. This new edition features up-to-date examples and new theoretical material, including expanded discussions of a number of topics, such as Weber's study of religion and its role in consumption, the role of the unconscious and emotion in shaping consumer behavior, the way brands shape the behavior of "mall girls," sexuality and advertising, and Maslow's theory of needs. The book also comes complete with updated ads and Berger's signature drawings. Whether they are new to Berger's lively style of teaching and writing or loyal adopters, advertising and media professors will want to check out the latest edition of this text.

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Editorial Reviews

Advertising Age
Pick up the new paperback edition. . . . It's a good, informative book about sex and advertising and other cool subjects, including new material on product placement.
An excellent introduction for anyone interested in learning about advertising. Highly recommended.
Contemporary Sociology
Well-written, down-to-earth, accessible, and rich in useful information.
An excellent introduction for anyone interested in learning about advertising. Highly recommended.
Kathy Petitte Jamison
Berger hits on the topics I'm interested in bringing to the course. And it's easy for students to read; fun and interesting; accessible. I love this book.
Mark Stuhlfaut
I especially like how Berger addresses the issue of culture in an easy-to-present way and the in-depth analysis of a print ad. My students really like this book, too!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442206694
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/16/2011
  • Edition description: 4th Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 258
  • Sales rank: 705,058
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Asa Berger is professor emeritus of broadcast and electronic communication arts at San Francisco State University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Fred S. Goldberg xi

Preface to the Fourth Edition xv

Preface to the Third Edition xix

Acknowledgments xxiii

1 Advertising in American Society 1

Advertising as a Puzzlement 1

Max Weber on Religion and Consumer Cultures 4

Advertising and Politics 5

Defining Advertising 6

Advertising Agencies 10

A Psycho-Cultural Perspective on Advertising 12

Running It Up a Flagpole to See If Anyone Salutes 13

Commercials as Mini-Dramas and Works of Art 15

Teleculture and the Internet 21

The Super Bowl 24

Conclusion 26

2 Consumer Cultures 29

A Cultural Critique of Advertising 29

Consumer Cultures Defined 31

Taste Cultures and Advertising 33

The Postmodern Perspective 34

The Problem of Emotions Overcoming Rationality 38

Consumer Culture and Privatism 39

Neiman Marcus and "Couthification" 40

Needs Are Finite, Desires Are Infinite 42

Mimetic Desire 44

Are There Four Consumer Cultures, Not Just One? 45

Classified Advertising 51

3 Advertising and the Communication Process 55

The Lasswell Formula 55

Focal Points and the Study of Media 56

The Lasswell Formula and Focal Points 58

A Problem with the Lasswell Formula 58

Metaphor and Metonymy 61

Metaphor and Identity: I Am a Seashell 63

4 Running It Up a Flagpole to See If Anyone Salutes 65

Lisa's Morning: A Fiction 65

Lisa Greatgal's and Johnny Q. Public's Daily Media Diet 66

Television Viewing and Exposure to Commercials 67

Our All-Consuming Passion for Consuming 69

A Note on "Hauls" 70

The Price We Pay for "Free" Television 70

The Illusion of Control 70

Being a "Branded Individual" 75

Selling Oneself 79

Selling Oneself for Brands 80

The Problem of Self-Alienation 81

We Can Choose as We Please, but Can We Please as We Please? 82

The Agony of Choice 85

Non-Advertising Forms of Advertising 86

5 Sexuality and Advertising 89

Sex in Advertising 91

Sexploitation and Anxiety 94

The Peach That Became a Prune: A Cautionary Fable 96

The Pseudo-Poetic Appeal to the Illiterati 99

Sex Appeal and Gender Appeal 101

Sex Sells Cigarettes 102

The Case of Joe Camel 103

Sex and the Problem of Clutter 105

6 Political Advertising 109

Kinds of Political Advertisements 111

The 1998 California Primary: A "Virtual" Campaign for Governor 113

Questions Raised by the "Virtual" Campaign 114

The 2002 California Campaign for Governor 116

The 2010 California Campaign for Governor 118

The Cost of Presidential Campaigns 118

The Code of the Commercial (and Other Political Advertising) 119

The Emotional Basis of Partisan Politics 120

The Death of the Tobacco Bill 122

7 The Marketing Society 125

Statistics on Advertising 125

More Comments on the Illusion of Freedom 126

The Marketing View 128

Maslow's Theory of Needs 130

The VALS 1 Typology 130

Using the VALS 1 Typology: A Case Study 134

VALS 2: A Revision of the VALS 1 Typology 134

Zip Codes and Kinds of Consumers 136

The Claritas Typology 138

Magazine Choice as an Indicator of Consumer Taste 140

Types of Teenage Consumers 142

Blogs and Marketing 144

A Typology for Everyone in the World 145

A Comparison of the Different Typologies 141

A Conclusion in the Form of a Question 149

8 Analyzing Print Advertisements or: Six Ways of Looking at a Fidji Perfume Advertisement 151

Lotman's Contributions to Understanding Texts 151

What's There to Analyze in an Advertisement? 152

Analyzing the Fidji Ad 154

A Semiotic Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement 155

A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement 151

A Sociological Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement 160

A Marxist Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement 161

The Myth Model and the Fidji Advertisement 162

A Feminist Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement 164

Conclusion 165

9 Analyzing Television Commercials: The Macintosh "1984" Commercial 167

A Synopsis of the Text 169

The Background 170

George Orwell's 1984 and Ridley Scott's "1984" 171

The Image of the Total Institution 172

The Prisoners'Boots 173

The Blond as Symbol 174

The Brainwashing Scenario 174

The Big Brother Figure 175

The Brainwasher's Message 175

The Big Explosion 176

The Inmates' Response 177

The Macintosh Announcement 177

The Heroine as Mythic Figure 177

Psychoanalytic Aspects of the Commercial 178

The Blond as Mediator 179

Alienated Proles 181

The Big Blue 182

A Clever Marketing Strategy 182

The "1984" Commercial and a Bit of Scholarly Research 183

10 Where Next? 181

Drug Advertising 181

Children and Advertising 190

Battling for People's Attention 192

Cell Phones, Social Media, and Advertising 193

Appendix: Useful Web Sites 195

Glossary 197

Annotated Bibliography 215

Bibliography 219

Index 225

About the Author 233

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