Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising
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A powerful, sobering call to arms by the documentarian (Killing Us Softly, Slim Hopes, Pack of Lies), lecturer, and scholar. Jean Kilbourne has an axe to grind, as she is refreshingly honest about admitting right up front. She is appalled by the power that various industries exert over the media, and has spent the past 30 years researching the pervasive and insidious nature of advertising in society. Here she examines the influence that advertising has on consumers, focusing particularly on how it contributes to the problems that girls and women already face in terms of economics, violence, and physical and emotional health. Kilbourne does not naively attribute any of the problems that women face directly to advertising; indeed she frequently states that no one particular advertisement or campaign can be blamed for anything. But her incisive interpretation of research and statistics points out with precision the advantage advertising companies take of the public’s tendencies toward addiction, and, even more importantly, the ways corporations use their economic hold over the media to withhold information from their customers. Kilbourne is specific and often humorous as she displays and deconstructs various ad campaigns and their methods of co-opting the human desire for connection; referring to a BMW ad that claims, “If you do shiver, it’ll be from excitement,” she asks, “Are we supposed literally to be turned on by the experience of driving these cars (or simply being inside them)? Is it progress that both men and women can now experience the thrill of having sex with their cars? Will people go parking by themselves before long?” One of the most egregious results of the ever-present sales pitch, explains Kilbourne, is the fact that those who buy whatever is being sold are often trying to fill an internal emptiness—and inevitably failing. A broad and provocative look at the ads that bombard us, and what they do to our culture. (100 b&w illus.) (Radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-86599-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999