Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion: Its Dubious Impact on American Society

By Michael Schudson | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE
PAPERBACK EDITION

ADVERTISING is much less powerful than advertisers and critics of advertising claim, and advertising agencies are stabbing in the dark much more than they are practicing precision microsurgery on the public consciousness. These points--made in chapters 2 and 3--have only been reinforced in the past two years. One of the more striking examples concerns television advertising for the 1984 Olympics and the 1985 Superbowl. The naïve observer must assume that businesses reap extraordinary rewards for their elaborate and expensive sponsorship of these events. But, it turns out, no one really knows if they do. Video Storyboard Tests, Inc., a market-research firm, found that Olympics advertising was not cost effective. Leading Olympics advertisers paid $62 for every 1,000 "retained impressions" (consumers who report that they remember an ad or have "retained impressions" of the ad) compared to the $27 they normally spend for the same result. As for the Superbowl, some firms were pleased to advertise. Soloflex, a mail-order exercise firm, advertised because, as the firm's president put it, "Look, it's the Superbowl! Advertising [on the game] gives the company more credibility; it's a statement that we have arrived." On the other hand, some

-xiii-

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Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion: Its Dubious Impact on American Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface to the Paperback Edition xiii
  • Notes xxiii
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Advertiser's Perspective 14
  • 2 - What Advertising Agencies Know 44
  • 3 - The Consumer's Information Environment 90
  • 4 - An Anthropology of Goods 129
  • 5 - Historical Roots of Consumer Culture 147
  • 6 - The Emergence of New Consumer Patterns: a Case Study of the Cigarette 178
  • 7 - Advertising as Capitalist Realism 209
  • 8 - An Evaluation of Advertising 234
  • Notes 244
  • Index 277
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