THE IMAGE-MAKERS: Power and Persuasion on Madison Avenue by William Meyers

THE IMAGE-MAKERS: Power and Persuasion on Madison Avenue

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Further hysteria, in the Vance Packard/Hidden Persuader tradition, about the dire omnipotence of Madison Avenue: ""Ad Alley's wizards have firmly established themselves as both the creators and controllers of our consumer culture. . . . They are now able virtually to dictate the foods we eat, the soda or beer we drink, the cigarettes we smoke, the clothes we wear,"" etc., etc. All of this Michael Schudson effectively rebuts (in Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion, below) with the simple, inarguable observation that ""sometimes there are substantial sales of a product without advertising and sometimes there is substantial advertising with little or no sales,"" along with analysis and evidence. Here, we have sales-pitch balderdash--""Ad Alley's new and improved salesmanship is smoother, more subtle, and more sophisticated than it has ever been""--joined to another simplistic fallacy: ""The future. . . belongs to those agencies who can unlock the pocketbooks of counterculture customers,"" the ""inner-directed.' Meyers--son of advertising folk, ex of the New York Times--then adopts one of the going ""psychographic"" market-research schemes (with its Belongers, Emulators, Emulator-Achievers, etc.) as his interpretive framework. There's some pop history of ""Pioneers of Persuasion"" (Rosser Reeves et al.) followed by pop chronicles of recent ad campaigns and campaigners: how Seven-Up took on Pepsi and Coke (""Nutrition, not nostalgia or break-dancing, is a key factor in motivating counterculture consumers to purchase soft drinks today""); ""the dramatic musical rescue of McDonald's"" (undercut by ""changing psychographics""). More tendentious still: ""Proctor and Gamble's advertising has been criticized by many inner-directed women for its reactionary portrayal of the contemporary female experience."" Shrill, hollow, and tiresome.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1984
Publisher: Times Books