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Oesn t need every detail it can come redundant in the middle but it s excellent and an extremely important document of the socialization of the American social appetite Great book If you d like me to elaborate with a 1000 word review I accept both cash and personal checks Five Key Points1 Management and business capitalism in the 1960s underwent a counterculture revolution just as dramatic as that found in the streets Postwar American capitalism was hardly the unchanging and soulless machine imagined by countercultural leaders it was as dynamic a force in its own way as the revolutionary youth movements of the period undertaking dramatic transformations 62 Book examines co option of counterculture by business seeking to o beyond traditional vilification of it This book is an analysis of the forces and logic that make rebel youth cultures so attractive to corporate decision makers 73 A radical section of American businessmen saw the counterculture as a kindred spirit in their own attempts to revitalise society Many in American business imagined the counterculture not as an enemy to be undermined or a threat to consumer culture but as a hopeful sign a symbolic ally in their struggles against the mountains of dead weight procedure and hierarchy 94 The capillaries of countercultural thought in business stretch into the 1950s with a turn against hierarchy and towards creativity The Accursed gradually becoming popular Even in the most complacent management literature of the fifties one finds harbingers of dissent and upheaval 215 Consumerism was able to remain such a powerful part of American society through its ability to allow individuals to show dissent including dissent towards consumerism No longer would Americans buy to fit in or impress the Joneses but to demonstrate that they were wise to theame to express their revulsion with the artifice and conformity of consumerism A pretty fascinating work Frank explicates the relationship between advertisers and consumers during the 50 s through the 90 s as one of symbiosis many of the ad men capitalizing on cool were themselves part of the same Pinkalicious: Merry Pinkmas! generational cohort they were repackaging hip culture and selling it back to It s easy to think of marketing in explicitly cynical terms but Frank deftly points out an obvious truth that is easily overlooked when one discusses companies as though they were people that companies are not actual people but instead are comprised of them and that while the pursuit of capital is the ultimateoal of any company the ways and means whereby that Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency goal is achieved and the extent to which it is pursued will vary depending upon the individuals in the organization Ad men were not robots and in some cases their attempts at marketing also served the dual purpose of being earnest attempts at creating artWith that said Frank apologizes a little too much for the earnestness of the hip ad men Ultimately their purpose is still to appropriate outsider culture and repackage it as something attractive and toothless for the purpose of commodification The Conuest of Cool serves as a compelling look at the playbook of the sympathetic contingent of the advertising industry Ook ReviewAn indispensable survivaluide for any modern consumer Publishers Weekly starred reviewFrank makes an ironclad case not only that the advertising industry cunningly turned the countercultural rhetoric of revolution into a rallying cry to buy stuff but that the process itself actually predated any actual counterculture to exploit Geoff Pevere Toronto Globe and Mail The Conuest of Cool helps us understand why throughout the last third of the twentieth century Americans have increasingly confused entility with conformity iron.
This is a rare book where I had a hard time deciding between the academic and popular history categories Are the two mutually exclusive Maybe not in this case I let the publisher decide for me the University of Chicago Press is undeniably an academic publisher The author is probably best known as the editor of The Baffler which is described on the back of the book as a cultural criticism journal His other accomplishments do seem confined to the area of journalism and commentary of current events but nevertheless this is a well researched work of history as well as an unusually entertaining readFrank s thesis with this book is fairly simple that the so called counter culture of the sixties far from being co opted by consumer culture was in fact intrinsically linked to it from the outset The values which this sub culture espoused were in fact anticipated within advertising culture by at least a decade and they meshed perfectly with the message of liberation through personal choice rather than mass action which advertisers used when targeting youth Frank observes that fantasies of rebellion liberation and outright revolution against the stultifying demands of mass society are commonplace within the mass cultural products of the United States even up to the time of his writing 1997 and this he says comes from an attitude that started on Madison Avenue long before it reached Haight Ashbury Frank traces the development of this attitude in literary sources and memoirs of advertising executives who strove from the late 1950s onward to be the hippest folks around and who challenged management theories that encouraged conformity for the simple reason that conformity didn t sell By the time of the summer of love it was easy for advertisers to market to young people as with the Uncola campaign of 7Up because these people had rown up speaking the same language as the advertisers themselvesFrank s use of sources does at times leave one wondering what might be left out of the picture did older conformist styles live longer in ads for laundry detergent say than for cars and soda pop But the argument presented is fascinating and worth considering for anyone interested in the cultural history of the United States This book is an advertising classic that describes how advertisers have taken what is cool which usually involves the trends of non conformity and rebellion and packaged it and re sold it to the non conformists Perfect example Even hippies shop for clothes that suit their fancy and at the beginning of the production line is managers that are picking apart the hippie psyche and marketing to that demographic This concept which is refered to as co optation is not the only topic that is breached but all in all the book tells of how cool has been interpreted and successfully adapted by advertisers to sell cool Not too long of a read about 250 pages but it covers the basics of hip consumerism Excellent account of how capitalism commodified the counter culture and helped make rebellion an individualist market based activity It s a little over exhaustive which is probably helpful for those who want all the nuances but for someone who While the youth counterculture remains the most evocative and best remembered symbol of the cultural ferment of the 1960s the revolution that shook American business during those boom years has one largely unremarked In this fascinating and revealing study Thomas Frank shows how the youthful revolutionaries were joined and even anticipated by such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men's clothing businessThomas Frank is perhaps the most provocative young cultural critic of the moment Gerald Marzorati New York Times
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Seful as a warning But as an apologia for ad men and capitalism I have no sympathy This book was written in the 1990s by a Gen Xer for Gen Xers a marketing demographic who were in their prime and had an ax to rind with the always upwardly mobile yet oh so idealistic boomers It plays to all the chords of cynicism Gen Xers felt towards boomers in the 1990s Preaching antimaterialist anticonsumer values while sucking up all the wealth while the younger cohorts Dancing with Mr. Darcy got to experience the vicissitudes of downward mobility It has pitch perfect Gen X sensibility It is a serious book it covers the advertising industries hunt for the hip demographic to sell to even if the hipsters pay lip service to idealism Hence the rise of anti advertising advertising Aood book that while true about this aspect of the business culture has a special appeal to my cynical Lesca generationIn all fairness I let out some angst against boomers in this post so here are some lefty millennials bitching about Gen X A friend recommended this to me when I was complaining that it s hard to findood books on post war advertising and I m very Sharpes Trafalgar glad he did I ve no interest at all in Frank s recent populist books but this is the one that benefits from that populism it was a dissertation and retains the mind numbing rigor needed by that form but it s very nicely written and filled with pleasing anecdotes that pull you through the dull bits The introduction particularly is a masterly statement of the way people professional historians and we lumpen masses perceive the sixties as an era of pure culture that was then coopted by corporations or failing that an era in which people subverted the corporate culture that was fed to them via mass media Frank s research on the culture and theory of advertising firms pretty much destroys this vision he shows convincingly that advertising firms and management theorists pre empted many indeed almost all of the 60s radical cultural and social criticisms if that s not enough he then does a nice job interpreting the advertising of the time to show that the copy writers and designers and even managers were also putting those criticisms into their advertisements The later chapters aren t as exciting particularly the chapter on men s wear says nothing you wouldn tet from common sense but it s worth reading nonetheless This mix of theoretically informed social criticism business history and cultural history is pretty rare but clearly there should be of it Frank estures to the idea that the nineties were similarly preempted by sixties and seventies advertising firms and management theorists I wish he d stop worrying about Kansas hunker down and really work through the social movements and business history of the last two decades Matthew Weiner owes Thomas Frank some serious royalties or if you haven t watched all 8 seasons of Mad Men and want the Cliff s Notes just read this book If you liked What s the Matter with Kansas do yourself a favor and read Conuest of Cool It s a hell of a lot academic but you can see the seeds of so much of Frank s later work It also changes how you see culture and advertising Not an easy read but well worth Y with protest and an extended middle finger with a populist manifesto His voice is an exciting addition to the soporific public discourse of the late twentieth century T J Jackson Lears In These TimesAn invaluable argument for anyone who has ever scoffed at hand me down counterculture from the '60s A spirited and exhaustive analysis of the era's advertising Brad Wieners Wired MagazineTom Frank is not only old fashioned he's anti fashion with a place in his heart for that ultimate social faux pas leftist politics Roger Trilling Details.
Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire The Wrecking Crew and What's the Matter with Kansas A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper's Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and writes regularly for Salon He lives outside Washington DC