I am writing this from the point of view of a practitioner who believes that, in order to have a real understanding of the dynamics of advertising, it is important to understand the background and motivation of the people involved.
Advertising has a small ‘legacy’—there is no formal industry-wide training scheme and very little knowledge is formalized. The most powerful influences are myth and oral history. Any study of advertising and advertising research methodology needs to take this ‘invisible history’ into account and I intend to outline some of the major forces and show how they affect advertising and how it is produced and measured.
Most people who currently hold power in advertising agencies and who are directly involved in the production of advertising are university educated. They will have come through universities when there was a considerable academic contempt for advertising (my philosophy tutor on hearing my choice of career responded with ‘I don’t care if you sell your body but for God’s sake don’t sell your mind!’) Advertising practitioners have internalized that contempt and feel a deep sense of conflict and shame about their profession. But I believe that this shame will disappear gradually as ‘cultural studies’ and its attendant interest (and consequent legitimization) continues and its graduates and their peers find their way into media careers.
However, there are two key implications for current advertising of this internalized shame and guilt. The first is that it creates the need for public/consumer acceptance. The thinking runs along the lines of ‘I’ll get by if I can make you laugh or entertain you. ’ The phrase ‘The uninvited guest in the living-room’ haunts advertising people and the apology or plea for acceptance is the capacity to amuse. The second implication of the internalized shame is that advertising people accept the premise that
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Publication information: Book title: The Authority of the Consumer. Contributors: Russell Keat - Editor, Nigel Whiteley - Editor, Nicholas Abercrombie - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 91.
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