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

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

by Arthur Asa Berger

Hardcover(Fifth Edition)

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Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture: Advertising's Impact on American Character and Society by Arthur Asa Berger

The new, fifth edition of this approachable text draws on both academic and applied perspectives to offer a lively critique of contemporary advertising’s effects on American character and culture.

Berger explains how advertising works by employing a psycho-cultural approach, encouraging readers to think about advertisements and commercials in more analytical and profound ways. Among the topics he addresses are the role of brands, the problem of self-alienation, and how both relate to consumption. Berger also considers the Values and Lifestyle (VALS) and Claritas typologies in marketing. Distinctive chapters examine specific advertisements and commercials from multiple perspectives, including semiotic, psychoanalytic, sociological, Marxist, mythic, and feminist analysis. Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture provides an accessible overview of advertising in the United States, spanning issues as diverse as sexuality, politics, market research, consumer culture and more; helping readers understand the role that advertising has played, and continues to play, in all our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442241244
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 01/30/2015
Edition description: Fifth Edition
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Foreword   Fred S. Goldberg     xi
Preface to the Third Edition     xv
Preface to the Second Edition     xix
Acknowledgments     xxv
Advertising in American Society     1
Advertising as a Puzzlement     1
Defining Advertising     4
Advertising Agencies     11
A Psycho-Cultural Perspective on Advertising     13
Running It Up a Flagpole to See If Anyone Salutes     14
Commercials as Mini-Dramas and Works of Art     16
Teleculture     21
The Super Bowl     24
Conclusion     26
Consumer Cultures     29
A Cultural Critique of Advertising     29
Consumer Cultures Defined     31
Taste Cultures and Advertising     33
The Postmodern Perspective     34
Consumer Culture and Privatism     37
Neiman Marcus and "Couthification"     37
Needs Are Finite, Desires Are Infinite     39
Mimetic Desire     41
Are There Four Consumer Cultures, Not Just One?     42
Classified Advertising     47
Advertising and the Communication Process     51
The Lasswell Formula     51
Focal Points and the Study of Media     52
The Lasswell Formula and Focal Points     54
A Problem with the Lasswell Formula     54
Metaphor and Metonymy     57
Running It Up a Flagpole to See If Anyone Salutes     61
Lisa's Morning: A Fiction     61
Lisa Greatgal's and Johnny Q. Public's Daily Media Diet     62
Television Viewing and Exposure to Commercials     63
Our All-Consuming Passion for Consuming     66
The Price We Pay for "Free" Television     66
The Illusion of Control     66
Being a "Branded Individual"     70
Selling Oneself     74
The Problem of Self-Alienation     75
We Can Choose as We Please, but Can We Please as We Please?     77
The Agony of Choice     79
Non-Advertising Forms of Advertising     80
Sexuality and Advertising     83
Sex in Advertising     84
Sexploitation and Anxiety     86
The Peach That Became a Prune: A Cautionary Fable     89
The Pseudo-Poetic Appeal to the Illiterati     91
Sex Sells Cigarettes     93
The Case of Joe Camel     93
Sex and the Problem of Clutter      95
Political Advertising     99
Kinds of Political Advertisements     101
The 1998 California Primary: A "Virtual" Campaign for Governor     103
Questions Raised by the "Virtual" Campaign     104
The 2002 California Campaign for Governor     106
The Code of the Commercial (and Other Political Advertising)     107
The Emotional Basis of Partisan Politics     109
The Death of the Tobacco Bill     110
The Marketing Society     113
Statistics on Advertising     113
More Comments on the Illusion of Freedom     114
The Marketing View     116
The VALS 1 Typology     117
Using the VALS 1 Typology: A Case Study     120
VALS 2: A Revision of the VALS 1 Typology     120
Zip Codes and Kinds of Consumers     122
The Claritas Typology     125
Magazine Choice as an Indicator of Consumer Taste     127
Types of Teenage Consumers     128
Blogs and Marketing     131
A Typology for Everyone in the World     132
A Comparison of the Different Typologies     134
A Conclusion in the Form of a Question     135
Analyzing Print Advertisements: Or: Six Ways of Looking at a Fidji Perfume Advertisement     137
Lotman's Contributions to Understanding Texts     137
What's There to Analyze in an Advertisement?     138
Analyzing the Fidji Ad     140
A Semiotic Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement     141
A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement     144
A Sociological Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement     146
A Marxist Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement     147
The Myth Model and the Fidji Advertisement     148
A Feminist Interpretation of the Fidji Advertisement     150
Analyzing Television Commercials: The Macintosh "1984" Commercial     153
A Synopsis of the Text     155
The Background     157
George Orwell's 1984 and Ridley Scott's "1984"     158
The Image of the Total Institution     159
The Prisoners' Boots     160
The Blond as Symbol     160
The Brainwashing Scenario     161
The Big Brother Figure     161
The Brainwasher's Message     162
The Big Explosion     163
The Inmates' Response     164
The Macintosh Announcement     164
The Heroine as Mythic Figure      165
Psychoanalytic Aspects of the Commercial     166
The Blond as Mediator     167
Alienated Proles     168
The Big Blue     169
A Clever Marketing Strategy     170
The "1984" Commercial and a Bit of Scholarly Research     171
Where Next?     175
Drug Advertising     175
Children and Advertising     178
Battling for People's Attention     180
Appendix: Useful Web Sites     181
Glossary     183
Annotated Bibliography     203
Bibliography     207
Index     211
About the Author     217

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Schroeder

Succeeds in introducing a way to study advertising in an interesting, lively, and thought-provoking package. An excellent, accessible textbook for students who are interested in advertising, as well as students in communication, business, and sociology.... I would feel comfortable using this text in courses with freshmen through seniors. (Jonathan Schroeder, University of Rhode Island)

Fred Goldberg

It was pure pleasure reading Arthur Asa Berger's esoteric deconstruction of the Macintosh '1984' commercial. I was part of this commercial's development and had no idea we were making semiotic history. Only a person of Berger's intellect and insight could have figured it all out as he has. (Fred Goldberg, Chairman & CEO, Goldberg Moser O'Neill)

Douglas Kellner

Arthur Asa Berger's Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture provides a multifaceted study of advertising that demonstrates its importance for the economy, politics, social life, and individual identities. Skillfully employing cultural, communications, and social theory, Berger brilliantly illuminates the multiple functions of advertising in today's consumer culture. (Douglas Kellner, UCLA, author of Media Culture)

Howard Rheingold

Arthur Asa Berger is that rare combination of astute, deep, and fun. His insights into the psychology, sociology, economics, and political implications of advertising and pop culture, in a lively, readable form, are a must for any student of popular culture. (Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community)

Carol Wilder

In Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture, Arthur Asa Berger strikes the raw nerve of American advertising. As in his many other cultural commentaries, Berger drives his point home with wit, wisdom, and wide-ranging examples, offering powerful inoculation against the worst excesses of today's climate of greed and commodification. (Carol Wilder, Associate Dean, The New School)

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