Mar 22 2010

The Conquest of Cool Part 1

Published by at 10:59 pm under Reflection Blog

I’m going to admit that when I read the title of this book I wasn’t too thrilled about the assignment.  First of all, you’d think that a book about consumerism would have a more aesthetically pleasing cover.  But, the first half of the book took me by surprise.

I went into the book thinking “what could I possibly learn about advertising?  I am bombarded with the stuff all day every day, how could I not know what’s going on?”  But in fact the book wasn’t so much about advertising’s tactics, but instead how it came to use such tactics. In the first half of the book, Frank spends a lot of time on the change from the 1950s advertising to the 1960s.  Before the 1960s, advertisers spent a lot of time on market research and going on what worked in the focus groups.  The 1960s, however, spent a lot more time on creativity of the art department, as discussed in class when we watched the PBS video about the artist who started using “love” in his works.  He talked about how this was the time that the artists were given more freedom to try out new ways of thinking and selling products, rather than relying upon market research and focus groups.  This relates a bit to the idea of bringing the fads from the fringes of society into the mainstream – such as how moccasins are now common place on the feet of my classmates or flannel went from Seattle to national.   The artists were able to almost project what was cool onto the masses that they were advertising to.

We talked about this in class when we discussed the Apple versus Windows ads.  I’m a Windows kind of guy. I know that when people buy Macs they are typically buying the brand.  I was able to build my computer so that it fit my needs for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, gaming, audio editing, and of course music and internet.  I’ve had this computer for quite a while, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  But Apple is amazing at advertising!  When I see the “I’m a Mac” ads Steve Jobs almost convinces me that my next computer will be white and include many applications that have a lower case i in them. But, as we talked about in class, this is an interesting selling point – it’s telling you that you’re buying this product to be an individual.  But, really, you’re going to be an individual just like everyone else.  So, what does that really say about our culture?

We talked briefly about the section about women’s lib in advertising and how DDB used the rebel woman to advertise to women who wanted to be dangerous.  As we saw in the Target Women clip, today women are marketed to in very different ways.  The series has a wide array of videos that show the different ways in which companies try to appeal to women, and it is so far from any sort of feminist ways of thinking that you have to wonder how we got there.

Also, this one of my favorite Target Womens.

-Charles

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