Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture

Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture

Advertising's Impact on American Character and Society

Arthur Asa Berger


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The sixth edition of this approachable text draws on both academic and applied perspectives to offer a lively critique of contemporary advertising’s effects on American character and culture.

Berger explains how advertising works by employing a psycho-cultural approach, encouraging readers to think about advertisements and commercials in more analytical and profound ways. The sixth edition features updated statistics, two new chapters, and new discussions of the role of brands, social media, non-binary perspectives on gender, advertising and the 2020 election, the problem of self-alienation, and how all these elements relate to consumption. Berger also considers the Values and Lifestyle (VALS) and Claritas typologies in marketing. Distinctive chapters examine the “1984” Macintosh commercial, a Fidji perfume advertisement, and a moisturizer advertisement from semiotic, psychoanalytic, sociological, Marxist, mythic, and feminist perspectives.

Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture provides an accessible overview of advertising in the United States, spanning issues as diverse as sexuality, politics, market research, consumer culture, and more, and helps readers understand the role that advertising has played, and continues to play, in all our lives.


Arthur Asa Berger:
Arthur Asa Berger is professor emeritus of broadcast and electronic communication arts at San Francisco State University.