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The Conquest Of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism
By Thomas Frank
8/10 from 1 review
Categories: Social Sciences, Business
Buy at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
1 review
Bone-dry, but smart and rewarding
Essentially a version of Thomas Frank's doctoral dissertation, The Conquest of Cool is heavy on the footnoting and lacks the concise smarts of his Baffler essays, but it's a valuable source-text for anyone interested in the development of business and advertising culture in post-war America. Franks describes how a team of Madison Avenue mavericks subverted the Pleasantville world of print advertising, introducing a new, no-bullshit style to sell the Volkswagen Beetle to a country contented with chrome, tailfins and planned obsolescence. Within months, this approach was copied, and as the 60s progressed, advertisers appropriated the terms and symbols of the countercultural revolution to sell their clients' products: a constantly self-revising 'hip consumerism' that survives and thrives to the present day.

If you're new to Franks, then start with the Baffler, or One Market Under God, which are written much more to a general reader rather than a university panel. But if you like your media criticism thick and chewy, this is well worth a look. And damnit, the man can write.

(Find an excerpt here.)
Rating: 8/10
Link to this review
Posted by nick sweeney on Thu, 28th March 2002, 2:11am
1 review