“The Social Impact of Advertising, Confessions of an (Ex-)Advertising Man”, Tony Kelso (2020)

+ info: Rownan & Littlefield

Composed with a touch of the panache of a former advertising copywriter, Kelso challenges readers to reflect on the social impact of advertising from multiple angles. The book uniquely combines personal anecdotes with a penetrating look at some of the most critical perspectives toward the field advanced by media scholars.

A play on David Ogilvy’s legendary Confessions of an Advertising Man, the text disrupts the creative guru’s account with a highly accessible critique of advertising suitable for classes in disciplines as various as cultural studies, marketing, media studies, political science, and sociology.

The book reflects the latest industry trends, especially the migration from legacy to social media vehicles like Instagram and Snapchat. Topics covered include a brief history of modern advertising in the United States, advertising’s influence on the so-called non-advertising content of the media, the ideological themes advertising inadvertently delivers, how advertising can privilege or marginalize various social constructions of identity, the controversial practice of targeting children, and how corporations often use advertising to superficially present a positive face while masking their profoundly darker sides.

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