Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising

Overview

If, through the years, American advertising has offered a clean and simple approach to getting out the word on new products or services, it has also made a complex, disturbing, and fascinating statement about American ideals and ideologies. This book, accessible to all readers, provides the necessary tools to interpret and understand in historical perspective how the American advertising industry portrays anyone other than the white American mainstream—African Americans, women, Native Americans, tourists of many ...

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Overview

If, through the years, American advertising has offered a clean and simple approach to getting out the word on new products or services, it has also made a complex, disturbing, and fascinating statement about American ideals and ideologies. This book, accessible to all readers, provides the necessary tools to interpret and understand in historical perspective how the American advertising industry portrays anyone other than the white American mainstream—African Americans, women, Native Americans, tourists of many nationalities, all of whom have come to be known as "the other’’—in its print media.With more than one hundred carefully selected illustrations, Professor O’Barr takes us on an enlightening excursion from two early American travel manuals (which so subtly and perhaps even unconsciously delineated a hegemonic ideology to the amateur American tourist-photographer), to advertisements in the 1929 National Geographic magazine, to Dennis O’Rourke’s disturbing 1987 film Cannibal Tours, to images of blackness across the twentieth century, and on to the representation of the Japanese (and, conversely, their representation of white Americans) in contemporary times.Though the author writes in a witty and readable style for the student and general reader, the argument he develops is one of profound seriousness: that the representation of foreigners and other categories of outsiders who appear in advertisements provides paradigms for relations between members of advertising’s intended audience and those defined as outside of it. These paradigms constitute an ideological guide for relations—of hierarchy, dominance, and subordination—between self and others, between "us” and "them.”

Through the years, American advertising has made a complex, disturbing, and fascinating statement about American ideals and ideologies. This book helps us understand how the American advertising industry portrays anyone other than the White American mainstream. 140 illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Advertising agencies are not culturally sensitive; now, that's a surprising discovery! In this work, O'Barr (cultural anthropology, Duke Univ.) argues that advertising communicates subliminal messages regarding the social and economic dominance of its target audience. He begins by analyzing the images in print advertisements, mostly from before World War II; these analyses vary from strongly persuasive to ponderously moralistic and subjective. He then invites the reader to try his/her hand with advertisements depicting African Americans. Twenty-six of the 43 advertisements are from before the Civil Rights movement and are filled with blatant stereotypes. O'Barr skims over the interaction of media, advertising, and the mores of society while arguing that advertising agencies should be socially responsible, even if the public is not. Recommended for anthropology, media, and political science collections.-Edward Buller, ``Natural History,'' American Musuem of Natural History
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Product Details

Meet the Author

William M. O’Barr is professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Analyzing Social Ideology in Advertisements 1
Ideology and Discourse 2
Three Analytic Issues 3
The Meaning of Advertisements 4
Foreigners and Other Outsiders in the World of Advertising 10
Outline of the Book 13
2 Instructions in Representing Others 17
Instructions in Representing Otherness: Advertisements for Travel Photography 20
Travel Photography Manuals: Explaining the Ideology of Photographic Colonialism 40
Photography and Ideology: Margaret Bourke-White in Russia 42
3 Representations of Others, Part 1: Advertisements in the 1929 National Geographic Magazine 45
A Window on Otherness: The National Geographic Magazine in 1929 47
The Broader Context: The State of the World in 1929 48
Native Americans 49
South Africa 53
Relationships of Westerners and Non-Westerners 58
Images of the West 64
4 Representations of Others, Part 2: Contemporary Print Advertisements 73
Americans and Foreigners 73
Three Categories of Foreigners 79
Some Additional Issues 96
5 Audience Responses: The Photographs of Tourists 103
Experimental Results 103
Reorienting the Study of Travel Photographs 104
Other People's Travel Photographs 104
Image/Relationship/Power 105
Cannibal Tours 105
Photographs as Evidence 106
6 An Exposition of Twentieth-Century Print Advertisements: Depictions of African Americans 107
Bibliographic Notes 108
Interpretive Notes 109
A Visitor's Guide to African Americans in American Advertising: A Twentieth-Century Retrospective 113
7 Unexpected Audiences: American and Japanese Representations of One Another 157
Shifting Images of the Japanese in American Advertising 158
Images of America and the West in Contemporary Japanese Print Advertisements 173
Someone Else's Dream 193
8 The Future 199
The Return of Individually Tailored Messages 200
A New Economic Order 202
The Management of Minds 202
Authority, Domination, and Subordination 203
The Socialization of Consumers 205
The Advertisers' Perspective 205
Possibilities for Change 206
References 208
About the Book and Author 209
Index 210
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