Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture

Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture

Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture

Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture

Excerpt

I have always loved advertising. In the spirit of the oxymoronic concept of truth in advertising, I confess my lifelong love of the stuff. When I flip through magazines, I do so to skip the articles. When I channel surf, it is to miss the programs. These days I go to most movies to check out the product placements. I mention this now, because I intend to have some mildly good things to say about advertising, and who but fools, toadies, and flacks has ever risen to the defense of those who tell lies for a living?

As a teenager in the 1950s I readVance Packard's Hidden Persuaders, Sloan Wilson's Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, and, a little later, Wilson Brian Key 's Subliminal Seduction and John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society. They wrote that advertising was pretty terrible stuff and its perpetrators were wrecking American culture. Advertising was making us do all these terrible things we didn't want to do. My reaction was not to go out to the bomb shelter clutching my Davy Crockett hat and mope. Quite the contrary—these views of public relations and advertising only made me more eager to be part of it. If Madison Avenue really worked the way these authors claimed, this would be the place for me. What fun to use language and imagery that worked, that did something, that drove adults nuts. Any culture that conceived of and then sold the rear end of the 1958 Cadillac is not without a certain heroic charm.

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