Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising

Front Cover
Guilford Publications, May 20, 1996 - Business & Economics - 322 pages
Television has become so saturated with commercials that it is difficult at times to tell the different images apart, much less remember or care about them. But, on closer look, television commercials can tell us a great deal about the interplay of market forces, contemporary culture, and corporate politics. This book views contemporary ad culture as an ever-accelerating war of meaning. The authors show how corporate symbols or signs vie for attention-span and market share by appropriating and quickly abandoning diverse elements of culture to differentiate products that may be in themselves virtually indistinguishable. The resulting "sign wars" are both a cause and a consequence of a media culture that is cynical and jaded, but striving for authenticity.
Including more than 100 illustrations and numerous examples from recent campaigns, this book provides a critical review of the culture of advertising.  It exposes the contradictions that stem from turning culture into a commodity, and illuminates the impact of television commercials on the way we see and understand the world around us.
 

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About the author (1996)

Robert L. Goldman, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.

Stephen Papson, Ph.D, is Professor of Sociology at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.

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