Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture

By Pokrywczynski, Jim | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture


Pokrywczynski, Jim, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


Twitchell, James (1996). Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. 279 pp. Hardback, $24.95.

"Between a rock and a hard place" is the proverbial position faculty will find themselves in deciding whether or not to adopt this book for any advertising course that focuses in full or in part on the social effects of advertising. One of the strengths of this book is the lack of a preconceived negative attitude toward advertising by the author, which makes it unique among most books analyzing advertising's cultural influences.

By no means is the book pro-advertising. There are plenty of examples and supporting evidence discussing how advertising has devalued classic art and how advertising has influenced our daily rhythms as well as our calendars by the commercialization of holidays.

On the other hand, there are well-developed arguments to support how advertising cannot be blamed for negatively affecting women or minority groups because advertising "is one of the most conservative forces in culture."

A key weakness of this book as a required text is the difficulty of dissecting the five chapters into succinct, clear, and organized topics. Four of the five chapters are very long (more than 50 pages) and skip from topic to topic, oftentimes without smooth transitions or clear connections. For example, Chapter 3 begins with a solid debunking of subliminal advertising as a topic worth discussing, then jumps to a discussion of segmentation, followed by discussions of sports marketing and how advertising influenced the women's movement of the early 20th century. …

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