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Adcult Articles and Essays

Articles related to the culture of advertising, marketing, media, and public relations.

April 10, 2005
Our Ratings, Ourselves: In Houston, a couple of thousand paid volunteers will soon start wearing Portable People Meters. Along with other advances in measuring what we watch and listen to, they may (in addition to transforming what we watch and listen to) finally answer the question: Does advertising really work? more...

March 13, 2005
Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News: The Bush administration has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. more...

March 12, 2005
In New Book, Professor Sees 'Mania' in U.S.: The author argues that in the age of globalization, Americans are addictively driven by the brain's pleasure centers to live turbocharged lives in pursuit of status and possessions at the expense of the only things that can truly make us happy: relationships with other people. more...

posted February 22, 2005
Harvard Business Reviewe: "The MFA is the New MBA" : "Artists and designers are “the alchemists of the future... Art graduate schools such as the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of Art Institute of Chicago and others around the country are experiencing an influx of corporate recruiters trolling for talent." more...

February 20, 2005
Strategy of Hyperbole Hits Crisis Proportions: The selling of political ideas from all sides tends to use an increasingly common practice: strident overstatement. more...

February 20, 2005
The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show': "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or its allies while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. more...

February 19, 2005
Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are Here: Podcasts are a little like reality television, a little like "Wayne's World," and are often likened to TiVo, which allows television watchers to download only the programs they want to watch and to skip advertising, for radio or blogs but spoken. more...

February 19, 2005
Administration Is Warned About Its 'News' Videos: The comptroller general has issued a blanket warning that reminds federal agencies they may not produce newscasts promoting administration policies without clearly stating that the government itself is the source. more...

February 7, 2005
Blockbuster With a Joystick: Wall Street is rife with speculation that various media companies are on the hunt to acquire a video game maker. Studios are more aggressively licensing their television and movie properties to game makers. And the pitches for video game-inspired movies have made lunch at Spago sound more like the computer club at a junior high school. more...

February 6, 2005
Michael Crichton? He's Just the Author: Now the inventor of the author tour is pursuing what is perhaps her most ambitious plan: to make HarperCollins as identifiable as some of the authors it publishes - including Michael Crichton, Tony Hillerman and Janet Evanovich. more...

January 23, 2005
The Triumph of Gesture Politics: The essence of leadership has changed into something that is less and less about significant undertakings and more and more about dramatic stunts. more...

January 23, 2005
War on Words Shapes Debate: Polls and focus groups for both sides have shown that voters -- especially older ones, who vote in disproportionately heavy numbers -- distrust any change that has the word "private" attached to it. more...

January 16, 2005
Thinking May Not Be All It's Thought to Be: Books come from the prehistoric world before silicon, and the iPod from five minutes ago - but both suggest to consumers that there is a way to remain thinking, feeling people in a world overgrown with data, options and demands. more...

January 16, 2005
All the President's Newsmen: The Bush administration has placed a number of fake news reports on television. At least two Government Accountability Office investigations have found that these Orwellian stunts violated federal law that prohibits "covert propaganda" purchased with taxpayers' money. But now we have the first case in which a well-known talking head has been recruited as the public face for the fake news. more...

January 9, 2005
We'll Win This War – on '24': Fiction, it seems, can be a more effective way to communicate the truth of the "war on terror" than the factual communications coming out of Washington. more...

January 2, 2005
Bradley Tusk – The gov's 'superstar' : Tusk oversees the governor's budget office, his legislative affairs division and the all-important communications shop, a major concentration of power for one staffer that has made him the go-to guy in this administration. more...

January 1, 2005
A Meeting of Writers, the Champions of Underdogs: Studs Terkel, the eminent author and oral historian, was wearing his signature outfit - a blue blazer over a red-checkered shirt and red sweater, with red socks to match - as his anecdotes, memories and opinions cascaded forth. more...

December 30, 2004
College Recruiters Lure Students With New Online Tools: Frustrated by the failure of e-mail solicitations to generate much response - largely because of the colleges' own unrestrained e-mail policies - admission directors are looking for new ways to incorporate the Internet into their marketing plans. more...

December 29, 2004
Advertisers Have Concern for Truth, Especially of Rivals' Claims: Although most consumers would not know it, companies frequently snipe at each other over accuracy in little-publicized but potentially important disputes when they think their interests are at stake. more...

December 26, 2004
Heading for Trouble, TV Let Things Slide: Advocates and opinionators are always warning of "slippery slopes." It's a cliche but one that has a nice alliterative allure. It's too early to say how many slopes we started, or continued, slipping down in 2004, but it was definitely a slopeful year. more...

December 28, 2004
Paying for Art, But Instead Getting Ads: The movie audience was forced to put up with 6 minutes of ear-bursting commercials, followed by 11 minutes of thunderous coming attractions – more commercials. If people arrived early, as most did to find decent seats, they became prisoners as well to 27 advertisements that flitted silently across the screen in a continuous loop. more...

December 27, 2004
Marketing's Flip Side: The 'Determined Detractor': Marketers have become fond of recruiting friendly trendsetters to promote their products, but modern technology may now force them to pay attention to another kind of agent of influence making the rounds: the determined detractor. more...

December 23, 2004
Unauthorized Campaigns Used by Unauthorized Creators Become a Trend: Freelancers and fans, even agencies and creative executives working on what might be called superspeculation, are behind the proliferation of vigilante marketing - advertising or trying to advertise products as they see fit. more...


James B. Twitchell on the cultural power of advertising: "If I want to be creative, that's the place I'm going to go. It's not so much that I want to sell the product, or even care about the product, but it's where our shared storehouse of stories is."N.Y. Times 12/23/04

December 21, 2004
Department Stores Discover That, Um, Sex Sells: In a climate in which strip and burlesque shows have been revived as hip entertainment and movies like "Kinsey" confront audiences with full-screen blowups of pornographic photographs, it not surprising that retailers are flouting taboos of their own. more...

December 21, 2004
A Snappy Slogan? In German? Don't Smile. Try English. How to explain the "Denglish" (German English) verbs – smalltalken, brunchen, mailen, floppen, managen, abcoolen and many others? For better or worse, they are simply in vogue. more...

December 21, 2004
From Must-See to Must-Have TV: TV producers are creating a digital catalog of products that will allow consumers to buy items that appear on "Will & Grace," "Las Vegas," the soap opera "Passions" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Advertisers will pitch products "when the impulse to buy is the greatest for the viewer." more...

December 15, 2004
Banned Ads 2004: The FCC made things tougher for broadcasters who skated too close to decency restrictions. Howard Stern headed for satellite radio. So it's no surprise that, in the year famous for a 'wardrobe malfunction,' these ads were too hot to handle. more...

December 6, 2004
How to Sell a Candidate to a Porsche-Driving, Leno-Loving Nascar Fan: Democrats watch more television than Republicans. So the Bush team examined voters' television-viewing habits, cross-referenced them with surveys of voters' political and lifestyle preferences, and diverted more to niche cable channels and radio. more...

December 5, 2004
Buzz: The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders: Different types of "buzz" are all attempts, in one way or another, to break the fourth wall that used to separate the theater of commerce, persuasion and salesmanship from our actual day-to-day life. more...

November 30, 2004
Lips Can Lie, but Your Brain Will Spill the Beans: New MRI study finds your mind is an open book: behind a liar's straight face is a brain neuroscientists believe they can read as easily as a signed confession. more...

November 28, 2004
Hey, Mom, Is It O.K. If These Guys Market Stuff to Us? A marketing expert cites examples of the intermingling of kid and adult cultures, a phenomenon that to him suggests children are becoming far more sophisticated about products and entertainment at the same time as adults (he calls them kidults) are increasingly reveling in youth-based content. more...

November 28, 2004
Frank Rich: The Great Indecency Hoax: The mainstream press is too cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent). more...

Posted November 28, 2004
US Brands in Trouble: Three articles by Financial Times analyst Richard Tomkins

Posted November 26, 2004
Five Key Issues Could Alter The Ad Industry: (first posted Jan. 2004) - One of the worst eras in advertising is drawing to a close, but 2004 will present a host of new challenges. U.S. ad spending is expected to grow 6.9% to $266.4 billion in 2004, with world-wide ad spending set to rise 5.8% to $498.3 billion. more...

November 23, 2004
Hollywood Shakeout: The firing of the publicity veteran Leslee Dart last week by her longtime partner, Pat Kingsley - chairwoman of the industry's leading publicity agency, PMK/HBH - set off an unusual scramble for position among filmmakers and their usually low-profile media representatives. more...

October 26, 2004
Buzzing the Web on a Meme Machine: Meme and memetics (the study of memes, not to be confused with mimetics) were once terms batted around only by thinkers like Richard Dawkins, the philosopher Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore, the author of "The Meme Machine." Now the word "meme" is part of many would-be-trendy Web addresses. more...

October 20, 2004
No Jokes or Spin. It's Time (Gasp) to Talk: The Daily Show's Jon Stewart appeared on Crossfire to tell Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that they were partisan hacks and that their pro-wrestling approach to political discourse was "hurting America." more...

October 19, 2004
If Your Brain Has a 'Buy Button,' What Pushes It? Knowing what brand you are buying can influence your preferences by commandeering brain circuits involved with memory, decision making and self-image, researchers have found. more...

October 17, 2004
Scary Ads Take Campaign to a Grim New Level: In the final days before the election, the campaigns and outside groups are taking an already unusually intense and confrontational advertising war into grim new territory, with some of the most vivid and evocative images and messages seen in presidential commercials in a generation. more...

October 16, 2004
Democracy as a Brand: Wooing Hearts, European or Muslim: The Cold War push to win over European sentiments was the central theme of a series of movies called "Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan 1948-53," shown this week as part of the New York Film Festival. more...

October 11, 2004
Consumer Advice for Advertisers: The official theme of the 94th annual meeting of the Association of National Advertisers was "Masters of Marketing," but it might have been more bluntly, and more accurately, summarized as "Change or Die." more...

October 11, 2004
The People Have Spoken, and Rice Takes Offense: Many authors are upset by the snide tone of some Amazon reviews; Ms. Rice decided to do something about it. She posted a blistering 1,200-word defense of her book on the site, laying in to those critics who, she said, were "interrogating this text from the wrong perspective." more...

October 10, 2004
'The Cult of Personality': Are You Normal? Think Again: Psychologists have long tried to capture our personalities. Their efforts thrive today in a testing business, worth $400 million a year, in which some 2,500 tests are on the market. But the tests rarely meet the demands to which they are put, though they have become perhaps our era's favored mode of self-understanding, our most accessible and accepted way of describing human nature. more...

October 8, 2004
Bush's Isolation From Reporters Could Be a Hindrance Some presidential advisers worry that he could pay price during debates for being overprotected. more...

October 3, 2004
The Week That Wasn't: Fake news is the comic trope of the moment. "The Daily Show," Ali G, Andy Borowitz, The Onion – even mainstream news outlets have been clamoring to introduce news satire to their programming, even though it's mainstream news that is often what is being mocked. more...

September 26, 2004
Quick. Change the Brand. In Five Weeks. Kerry could use a new message to move up in the polls, but any new message leaves him vulnerable to accusations of flip-flopping. How do you reposition a candidate whose commonly perceived weakness, fairly or not, is his penchant for repositioning? And how do you do it so late in the campaign? more...

September 26, 2004
Welcome to the Campaign That Makes 'Selling' a President Look Good: When it was published in 1969, "The Selling of the President" caused a scandal. But in an era when campaigns are increasingly based on unselling the opponent through vicious negative advertising, the idea of actually trying to sell the president seems almost refreshing. more...

September 22, 2004
Growth of Wal-Mart Bad News for Papers: Wal-Mart and stores like them simply don't advertise in newspapers the way traditional department stores do. Most troubling for newspapers is that this isn't going away. It's actually accelerating. more...

September 21, 2004
The Power of Buzz – "Have you heard?": In order to breach a consumer's "initial headset barrier" against advertising the sales pitch must be "embedded" in something more palatable, such as a TV show, a sporting event, a video game. more...

September 21, 2004
Target: Young girls: It's the latest tactic for selling products: "viral marketing," encouraging people to spread the word to their friends, who then spread the word to more friends. more...

September 19, 2004
Barbarians at the Digital Gate: The proliferation of spyware and adware has brought Internet use to a stark crossroads. Many consumers now see the Web as a battlefield strewn with land mines. But major advertisers and big Internet sites are tempted. more...

September 19, 2004
This Time Bill O'Reilly Got It Right: When he attacked CNN for keeping James Carville and Paul Begala as hosts on "Crossfire" after they had joined the Kerry campaign, he fingered yet another symptom of the decline and fall of the American news culture. more...

September 12, 2004
Research Backs it Up: Revenge is Sweet: By scanning the brains of people contemplating acts of revenge, scientists havae discovered that revenge triggers a region of the brain associated with cocaine, money, a lover's face, good food and other potentially pleasant stimuli. more...

September 12, 2004
Do Newspapers Make Good News Look Bad? A conservative research organization in Washington says economic reporters commit slant the news unequivocally in favor of the Democrats. more...

September 12, 2004
In Search of Our Next Big Topic of Conversation: For the last five years, each season has produced at least one show that became a so-called "water cooler" phenomenon: not just a hit, but an It show. more...

September 2, 2004
The Branding of the Presidency: Advertising that tries to ride the coattails of interest in politics is always popular in election years, particularly when the presidency is at stake. more...

September 1, 2004
Advertisers Join the ’04 Campaign: The race for the White House is turning into a brandapalooza for marketers as products and ad slogans assume increasingly prominent roles in the campaign - almost as if this were the first officially sponsored presidential election. more...

August 5, 2004
Paying to Avoid Ads: As the advertising industry recovers from the deep slump that began in 2001, it is struggling to cope with a decline in the effectiveness of some of its traditional ways of getting a message across, such as 30-second ads on network television. more...

June 24, 2004
The Future of Advertising – The Harder Hard Sell: The ad industry is in one of the most disorienting periods in its history, due to a combination of long-term changes, like the growing diversity of media, and the arrival of new technologies, notably the internet. More people are rejecting traditional sales messages, presenting the ad industry with big challenges. more...

August 26, 2004
Masters of the Matrix: TV & Politics – Daniel Boorstin ("The Image") thought Americans needed their experience to be constantly sweetened, like chewing gum, and a whole industry had grown up to provide this artificially enhanced reality. more...

August 26, 2004
Madame Cheney's cultural revolution: How the vice president's powerful wife makes sure that historians and other scholars follow the right path. Unelected and unappointed, she's back in charge at the National Endowment for the Humanities, operating without that pesky "mandate from the voters" through handpicked surrogates in key positions. more...

August 22, 2004
Going Negative: When It Works: Bush has spent the majority of the $100+ million he has spent on TV ads attacking Kerry. Mr. Kerry and the other Democratic primary contenders seemed to spend the fall and early winter in a contest to see who could jibe Mr. Bush the most. more...

August 9, 2004
Campaign ads: Who listens? The two campaigns and their allies have spent more than $250 million in ads thus far in an election cycle that features unparalleled intensity, unusually early. And in the end, all this message-mongering sways very few votes. more...

August 9, 2004
Advertisers Covet Their Young Viewers, but Sex, Profanity Scare Them Away: FX and other cable channels are increasingly under pressure to stand out in a crowded, 200-channel TV universe. They must compete with premium-pay channels such as HBO that have built their businesses with provocative, uncensored fare. But advertisers are concerned about their product's image and customer base. more...

August 9, 2004
Young Men Are Back Watching TV. But Did They Ever Leave? Unlike those other notoriously missing items – the weapons of mass destruction – television's missing young men appear to have been found, back in front of their TV sets. more...

August 8, 2004
Whatever the Public Fears Most, It's Right Up There on the Big Screen: Often hinging on a conspiracy, movies of political and social paranoia – like The Manchurian Candidate – stay in moviegoers' minds when formulaic disaster films have faded from memory. They stay there because serious filmmakers have somehow intuited apprehensions both overt and covert, like a Rorschach test of the public's fears at a given moment. more...

August 4, 2004
Blagojevich Press Operation: More Control for Governor: Once we had public information officers in state agencies. PIO's were expected to dispense information to the public, usually via reporters. Now we will have people managing communications. more...

August 1, 2004
Computers Weighing In On the Elements of Essay: More than 2 million essays have been scored by a computer program named e-rater since it was adopted for the GMAT in 1999. Testing experts predict that machines eventually will help grade the SAT and the ACT. more...

Issue of August 12, 2004
The Lost Boys: How the 18-34 Male is Reinventing Advertising: Eager to reach the disappearing 18-34 male, marketers are experimenting with advertorial blogs, commercials that pop up in email, even human billboards running around Times Square with ad slogans pasted on their foreheads. more...

July 25, 2004
Not Funnies: Graphics Novelists Discuss Their Work: There was a moment when people more or less stopped reading poetry and turned instead to novels; Someday the novel, too, will go into decline, to become a genre treasured and created by just a relative few. What will become the next new literary form? It might be comic books. more...

July 23, 2004
Yet Again, a Brand Name Loses Its Magic: AT&T used to mean phone service, just as Xerox once meant copying and GM, Ford and Chrysler, once stood for cars. As iconic brands, they towered over their rivals and dominated their businesses. But the world of brands has changed, which says a great deal not only about AT&T and the phone industry, but also about the jeopardy that once-leading brands in many other industries are in. more...

July 23, 2004
Networks Tune Out American Voters: The networks have decided to give only three prime-time hours (out of 12) to the coverage of each convention and to televise only three speakers at each convention: Kerry and Edwards and Bill Clinton at the Democratic convention; Bush, Cheney, and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Republican convention. more...

July 22, 2004
The End of Books? The percentage of households buying at least one trade book slipped from 56 percent to 55 percent during 2003. Americans spent 106 hours a year reading consumer books in 2003, down from 120 in 1998. Meanwhile, TV-watching is rising and Internet use is skyrocketing, from 54 hours in 1998 to a projected 213 hours in 2006. more...

July 18, 2004
Political Blogs Catching On: Blogs--short for Web logs, which are online journals that usually feature commentaries on daily events and provide links to other Web sites--are emerging as potentially powerful tools for building grass-roots political support. more...

July 18, 2004
In Presidential Race, TV Can't Lose: Thanks to what amounts to an advertising arms race between the two major political parties, the 2004 election promises to be the costliest presidential campaign in history. And this year's politicking already has produced some clear-cut winners: TV broadcasters. more...

July 18, 2004
An Article That Explains Bookselling: As it turns out, changing the world is not as tough as you might think. A decade or so ago, book authors began assigning axis-tilting properties to people, events, substances and devices that had once simply seemed a part of the march of human evolution, not a driver of it. more...

July 18, 2004
You Can't Do That on Television! Writers, producers and network executives are in a state of confusion about what they are allowed to say and show on television. Some say election-year posturing in Washington is resulting in the most conservative television environment in years. Others say they barely feel the chill. more...

July 18, 2004
Seeking Voters Through Habits in TV Viewing: Crime shows appeal to the Bush campaign because of its interest in reaching out to Republican men who are attracted to such programming. By contrast, the Kerry campaign is more interested in concentrating on single women, who tend to be drawn to shows with softer themes. more...

July 12, 2004
It's Officially a Living: Bloggers Find Ad Boom Can Pay Their Rent: A year ago, blogger Glenn Reynolds saw only a trickle of funds donated to his popular Web site, Instapundit.com. These days, since he began accepting advertisements on his site five months ago, Instapundit.com has been bringing in several thousand dollars a month. more...

July 12, 2004
Colossal Ads Block View of Rome's Gems: The lovely 16th Century church at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome? -- if you're visiting Rome this summer you won't be able to see it, because it's been draped in a giant advertisement for L'Oreal beauty products, the latest in a series of controversial advertisements that obscure the ancient city's monuments. more...

July 8, 2004
Fewer Noses Stuck in Books in America, NEA Survey Finds: Fewer than half of Americans over 18 now read novels, short stories, plays or poetry; the consumer pool for books of all kinds has diminished; and the pace at which the nation is losing readers, especially young readers, is quickening. The downward trend holds in virtually all demographic areas. more...

July 5, 2004
Nonfiction Films Turn a Corner: The record-breaking success of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" may mark a turning point in the acceptance of documentaries by audiences as mass entertainment and by movie distributors as potential profit centers. more...

June 28, 2004
Judge Says Artist Can Make Fun of Barbie: The judgment against Mattel is "enough to give corporations with brands they want to protect and expand pause to consider whether to simply reflexively unleash the hounds the minute they see somebody doing something that relates to their brand of which they don't approve." more...

June 27, 2004
John Ashcroft – The Best Goebbels of All? Goebbels is in fashion everywhere these days. As Michael Moore implies in Fahrenheit 911 that the Bush administration is in cahoots with the native country of 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, so the Bush administration has itself used a sustained campaign of insinuation to float the false claim that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with those hijackers, too. more...

June 24, 2004
America's New Brand of Anger And Resentment: Influential voices in the marketing, advertising and public relations world are warning that their market research suggests political developments - including opposition to the Iraq war - are eroding the global appeal of US brands from McDonald's to Microsoft and MTV. more...

Issue of June 28, 2004
Defining America: Our Consuming Interest: America has double the number of shopping malls as it does high schools. Personal consumption accounts for 70 percent of GNP, in part because Americans pay more health and education costs out of their own pocket than in other advanced countries. We also work longer hours. more...

June 25, 2004
"Brought To You By . . ." 30-second TV spots may have lost some punch, so advertisers want new ways to sell products. Now companies can buy a whole show, and networks face mounting criticism for it. more...

June 19, 2004
Decyphering the Grammar of Mind, Music and Math: A new field, biomusicology, is preoccupied with how music affects the brain. What regions of the brain respond to changes in harmony or melody? Is there a single region that makes sense of music? The foundations of musical perception are sought, as are the biological laws that make music a human universal. more...

June 17, 2004
More Products in Television Programming: Ambitious efforts to embed advertising in television programs are accelerating as advertisers expand plans to produce so-called branded entertainment. Now, scripted programs like mini-series and soap operas are joining the unscripted reality and game shows where the trend began. more...

June 16, 2004
Voters Harder to Reach As Media Outlets Multiply: The change in Margolis's media strategy says much about the difficulties that candidates face in talking to voters these days. With TV viewers dispersed among more than 100 channels, with more ads of every kind cluttering the air and more ways to zap them at home, it has become tougher each year for politicians to reach the masses with their messages. more...

June 15, 2004
State Has a Strange Way with Words: Standardized writing tests measure certain benchmarks of basic competence--complete sentences, well-organized paragraphs, supporting details, correct pronouns. The tests do not measure the grace and innovation found in the best writing. more...

June 15, 2004
Solve For X and Let the Laughs Begin: Scientists have developed what they claim is the mathematical formula for the perfect joke. The equation they have formulated, x = (fl + no) / p, takes into account the length of the joke's build-up, the comedic value of the punch line and the groan-inducing qualities of puns. more...

June 14, 2004
The Odd Couple vs. Nielsen: The battle over Nielsen Media Research's plans to modernize the way it measures local television viewership has become far more than the typical industry dispute, uniting a group of longtime Clinton advisers and Democratic politicians with the money of a political rival, Rupert Murdoch, and his News Corporation. more...

June 13, 2004
An Electrician From the Ukrainian Town of Lutsk: Forty percent of the by-lined A section articles published in the New York Times last December invoked at least one anonymous source; the average day's paper brought 36 such sources into the reader's home and that more than half of these people were identified, at least in part, as "officials." more...

June 13, 2004
And, Yes, He Was a Great Communicator: Ronald Reagan's adroitness at refashioning the traditional forms of presidential communication stemmed to a large degree from his ability to address the public directly. He learned that language during his years in Hollywood, but it came from sources not usually associated with his political career. more...

June 13, 2004
Torture Incarnate, and Propped on a Pedestal: Icons live their own lives. Of all the photographs of American soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison, one alone has become the icon of the abuse. more...

June 13, 2004
How Google Took the Work Out of Selling Advertising: It's Google's AdSense program, unveiled last summer. Google's original way of making money, and still its largest source of revenue, was search-driven ads. Enter "vacation homes in France," and Google includes a list of "sponsored links" from advertisers, who have paid to be associated with those terms. more...

June 8, 2004
Author Finds That With Fame Comes Image Management: Azar Nafisi, author of of "Reading Lolita in Tehran," has found herself drawn further and further into the maddening, seductive fold of American success. "We all know how dangerous it is for a dream to come true," she says. "It is so amazing in America because you say, `I want this' and they say, `Come and get it.' " Now, she wonders, "How much time do you have to spend creating or not creating an image?" more...

June 2, 2004
A Gas-Guzzling Revenge Plot Meets Souped-Up Sales Pitch: The car-chase movie, "The Last Ride," on the USA network, is a brazen commercial for Pontiac. The network has made no pretense about this, hyping its achievement as a "unprecedented integrated marketing opportunity." You can't skip the ads without missing the movie. more...

New York Magazine Issue of June 7, 2004
The Education of Alexandra Polier: Falsely accused of having an affair with John Kerry, the “intern” sifts through the mud and the people who threw it. more...

May 30, 2004
Discipline Takes a Break at the White House: Even Bush's harshest critics used to offer their grudging admiration of one of the greatest talents of this White House: its extraordinary discipline and message control. That's no longer so. more...

May 29, 2004
A Common Language Should Not Blind Us to the Reality Of a Deepening Transatlantic Gulf: There are massive entrenched cultural differences between the U.S. and U.K., whereas the lack of a common language in Europe leads some monolingual Anglo-Saxons to presume social and political differences between, for example, the Germans and the British, which scarcely exist compared with the transatlantic gulf. (letter to the editor) more...

May 29, 2004
The Eyes Have It: Visual Arts and Literary Culture: From Chaucer to Shakespeare to Amis, for centuries literature dominated British culture. But art is better equipped to interpret the world for a visually literate 21st century audience - and it is doing so with a vigour lacking in contemporary writing. more...

May 24, 2004
TV Advertising Doesn't Work for Mature Package Goods: TV advertising doesn't work for most mature package-goods brands, and the industry's increase in ad spending over the past three years has accelerated waste, concludes a sure-to-be-controversial Deutsche Bank report. more...


May 30, 2004
Weapons of Mass Destruction? Or Mass Distraction? In 1920 the Times had missed the real story of the Bolshevik Revolution because its writers and editors "were nervously excited by exciting events." That could have been said about the Times and the war in Iraq. The excitement's over; now the work begins. more...

May 24, 2004
Insights into "The Arab Mind"? This article from The Guardian (U.K.) explains why a book packed with sweeping generalisations about Arabs carries so much weight with both neocons and military in the US. more...

May 26, 2004
The N.Y. Times and Coverage of Iraq in the U.S. Media: After reviewing hundreds of articles the N.Y. Times editors have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. Some information was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. more...

May 27, 2004
Not Fit to Print: the N.Y. Times Details How It Was Manipulated: When the full history of the Iraq war is written, one of its most scandalous chapters will be about how American journalists, in particular those at the New York Times, so easily allowed themselves to be manipulated by both dubious sources. more...


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May 28, 2004
TV Ads Have Branded the Big Names On Our Brains: Commentary on the Deutsche Bank report (previous item) – even more shocking than the revelation that TV advertising does not work is that it does - and without our even knowing it. Just as we always suspected, we are being brainwashed. more...

May 23, 2004
SubservientChicken.com – Are We Really Sick of Advertising? If we're all so sick of advertising, why are millions of us spending our free moments interacting with an ad and then forwarding it to all of our friends? more...

May 21, 2004
Stanley Fish: Why We Built the Ivory Tower: To proponents of the "civic responsibility of higher education," he argues that it should not be the design or aim of academics to play that role. more...

May 21, 2004
The War's Dark Side: Filling in the Blanks: The Abu Ghraib photos were shocking – but how many shocking images have we not seen after more than a year of war? Two striking documentaries suggest how rarely the harshest images — and sometimes the unwelcome news — have penetrated American newscasts until now. more...

May 20, 2004
Street Maps in Political Hues: While records of campaign contributions have long been available online, Fundrace.org has a twist: plug in any address and retrieve a list of all the donors in the neighborhood, the names of their favored candidates and the amount bestowed. more...

May 16, 2004
Christian Cool and the New Generation Gap: As mainline churches scramble to retain young people, a new generation of worshipers, wearing "Jesus Is My Homeboy" T-shirts, are creating alternative churches in coffee bars and warehouses and publishing new magazines and Bibles that come on as anything but church. more...

May 9, 2004
One Chance for a First Impression: How hard is it for a challenger today to introduce himself to the American people, pass a threshold of credibility as a potential commander in chief and at the same time beat back relentless efforts by the opposition to define him first? more...

May 3, 2004
Turnaround in Advertising Doesn't Extend to Magazines: The number of advertising pages in consumer magazines has steadily declined, bucking broader trends and spreading frustration across the industry. Although overall advertising spending rose 6.1 percent last year, magazine publishers are stuck to the bottom, watching as a rising tide lifts other boats. more...

April 29, 2004
Margaret Sullivan Interview: Marketing Skill Handy for Getting Hired: "Learning how to market yourself ... is a critical skill for all job seekers because it allows you to apply marketing theory to the most important product--yourself. It's all about a brand called you." more...

April 20, 2004
Using M.R.I.'s to See Politics on the Brain: Researchers using MRI's have noticed intriguing neurological patterns in how Democrats and Republicans look at candidates. One of the most striking results so far is the way subjects react to candidates after seeing a campaign commercial. more...

April 18, 2004
From Campaign Trail to Celebrity Circuit: Mr. Carville has not left politics behind. Hardly. Instead he has, largely by dint of energy and personality, blended politics, entertainment and celebrity into a lucrative empire with a single product to sell: James Carville. more...

April 12, 2004
Class Helps Firms Plan Marketing: A marketing course at Aurora University offers consulting teams of students to help firms and groups develop marketing and other business plans and promotion strategies. more...

April 11, 2004
Shutting Arts Out of Schools Limits Students, Nation: Last month in Chicago, arts educators and administrators from around the nation and world gathered for a groundbreaking conference on how to better integrate the arts into our schools.... more...

April 11, 2004
Rice Takes the Right Tone in Hearings: It was during her musings on the sources of terrorism before the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that Condoleezza Rice had her high-drama, "You go, girlfriend!" moment. more...

April 11, 2004
Condoleezza Rice: Now That's a Performer: With those cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth perched just so above her U.S. flag lapel pin – a pin rarely blocked from the camera's gaze, as if by contractual stipulation, by either her microphone or CNN's headline crawl – Rice finessed and Cheshire-catted her way through some tough questions. more...

April 11, 2004
Costly Dose of Tv Drug Ads: A wave of new TV ads for some of the most expensive drugs has insurers and economists bracing for their effect on health-care costs. The ads could affect Medicare, which will begin covering some of these expensive treatments. more...

April 11, 2004
The Ties Behind the News in Author Interviews on TV: The policy of matching books with television shows has become a minor art form, aggressively pursued by networks and publishers alike. With media mergers, the arrangements often stay within the corporate family. more...

April 7, 2004
Where's the Beef? Jingles -- those irresistibly catchy little ditties that form the musical foundation of radio and television commercials -- have been selling us candy bars, automobiles, cleaning detergents and all other manner of goods and services since, well, since radio and television first hit the airwaves... more...

April 3, 2004
Taking the Liberalism Out of Liberal Arts: David Horowitz, author of "Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey" (Spence Publishing, 2003) and the president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, is spearheading a campaign to end what he calls discrimination against conservative faculty and students. At its core is an "academic bill of rights." more...

April 2, 2004
TV Shows Take On Bush, and Pull Few Punches: Hollywood's more liberal producers and writers are increasingly expressing their displeasure with President Bush with not only their wallets, but also their scripts. more...

March 31, 2004
Publicist Hired to Tell Iraqis of Democracy: The U.S.-led occupation in Iraq has enlisted a British PR firm, Bell Pottinger, to promote the establishment of democracy. more...

March 30, 2004
Politicians Tuning In to Voters' Favorite Shows: Like for a new brand of cold medicine or the latest model of a sport-utility vehicle, the campaigns are beginning to target segments of voters with surgical-like precision. more...

March 25, 2004
At the End of the Day, Clichés Rule: The Plain English Campaign has created a list of the most over-used and annoying buzzwords and clichés in the world today. "At the end of the day" is the most irritating inanity, followed by "at this moment in time"; "like" used as, like, a form of punctuation; and "with all due respect..." more...

March 23, 2004
Eight Major Trends: The State of the News Media: A new survey tries to answer basic questions in six areas: the trends in content, audience, economics, ownership, newsroom investment and public attitudes. It aggregates as much publicly available data as is possible in one place and, for six of the sectors, also includes an original content analysis. more...

March 22, 2004
We've Got Algorithm, but How About Soul? The promise of a new technology is that the hit potential of any new song can be determined by breaking it down against an algorithmic array. The closer it lands to the center of a "hit cluster," the more likely it is to be a successful song. more...

March 22, 2004
When Spin Spins Out of Control: "This is not an administration that believes the truth will set you free," said Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, echoing the sentiments of others in his party. Mr. Emanuel, who served as a top adviser to President Bill Clinton before running for elective office, went on to offer his own coda for life in Washington: "You can spin, but you can't deceive." more...

March 15, 2004
The Father of the Modern Attack Ad: The Bush campaign launched its first negative attack ad on television late last week, earlier than in any presidential race in history. For an incumbent president to abandon the elevated surroundings of his White House Rose Garden so speedily reveals anxiety about an opponent ahead of or tied with him in the polls. Bush's 30-second spot portrays Sen. John Kerry as "wrong on taxes, wrong on defense." It's prime time for Alex Castellanos. more...

March 15, 2004
U.S. Videos, for TV News, Come Under Scrutiny: Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law. The video news releases (VNRs) are intended for use in local television news programs. more...

March 15, 2004
Appetite For News On Wane, Study Concludes: The audience for most news media outlets is shrinking or stagnant, and investment in news-gathering among most traditional outlets is down, according to a study released Monday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. more...

March 14, 2004
Collision Course On The Airwaves: A new era of tougher government oversight of broadcasting standards could have far-reaching effects. It could change what kinds of programs air on broadcast TV, and it could bring unregulated cable and satellite programming under government oversight for the first time. more...

March 14, 2004
Where For Art Thou, Principles? Last week, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater announced a new sponsorship arrangement with Quaker. The deal includes the placing of Quaker food products in a Chicago Shakespeare production on Navy Pier. Was it a gag.? Are we to be seeing King John munching on Rice-A-Roni, the Elizabethan treat? more...

March 14, 2004
Study Finds a Nation of Polarized Readers: A study of book sales shows readers are as fiercely polarized as the national electorate is said to be. Buyers of liberal books buy only other liberal books, while buyers of conservative books buy only other conservative books. Contemporary media and the Internet have abetted a culture of polarization, in which people primarily seek out points of view to which they already subscribe. more...

January 2004 Issue
How the Internet Invented Howard Dean: "We fell into this by accident," Dean admits. "I wish I could tell you we were smart enough to figure this out. But the community taught us. They seized the initiative through Meetup. They built our organization for us before we had an organization." more...

February 28, 2004
Armies of Consumers: 1776's Secret Weapon? A signature attribute of contemporary America — and a trait for which it is frequently criticized — lay at the heart of the American Revolution. So says a new book, "The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence." Even before America was a nation it was a society of consumers. more...

February 22, 2004
By Selling Very Public Image, the Private Giuliani Prospers: In its two years of existence, Giuliani Partners has earned tens of millions of dollars by assembling an extremely broad range of clients, jumping almost immediately into the ranks of the nation's most prestigious consulting firms. The firm is clearly and without apology driven by the stature Mr. Giuliani gained as Mayor of New York, in commanding the New York City Police Department and in guiding the city after the World Trade Center attack. more...

February 22, 2004
Taking Spin Out of Report That Made Bad Into Good Health: The Bush administration says it improperly altered a report documenting large racial and ethnic disparities in health care, but it will soon publish the full, unexpurgated document. Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, told Congress last week that "some individuals took it upon themselves" to make the report sound more positive than was justified by the data. more...

February 22, 2004
In Politics, the Web Is a Parallel World With Its Own Rules: It's a vicious TV attack ad. But the one-minute spot, introduced a week ago, did not appear on television, but on President Bush’s campaign Web site. And so a new bare-knuckled political use of the World Wide Web showed its head: the Internet attack ad. more...

February 21, 2004
What Did Jesus Really Look Like? Whatever arguments there may be about the verisimilitude of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," one thing is certain: this Jesus is a Hollywood hunk who probably bears little resemblance to what the Jesus of history looked like. more...

February 15, 2004
The Very, Very Personal Is the Political: "The Voters" are the customers you have to get to buy your Brand A over Brand B. So who are they? Where are they? Are they rich? Do they own fly rods and drive minivans? Do they go to church or temple? And maybe most important, who among them has never voted, or rarely voted, or voted in ways that may deserve the special status of swing voter? To do the job right, of course, to really win this thing, you've got to find them, woo them and get them to the polls. Where to start? more...

February 1, 2004
Lip-Synching Gets Real: The practice of lip-synching is practically as old as recorded music. But now, after decades of derision and outrage, audiences are warming up to the fakery. In chat rooms and fan sites, fans of singers like Britney Spears not only don't mind a little gimmickry — they prefer it. more...

January 25, 2004
The Tyranny of Copyright? Once a dry and seemingly mechanical area of the American legal system, intellectual property law can now be found at the center of major disputes in the arts, sciences and politics. Recent cases have involved everything from attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around campfires to corporations filing for patents for human genes. more...

January 18, 2004
Going Deep With Iowa's Meta-Voters: In a world where every shred of presidential politics is deconstructed, pollsters have learned to become more like political psychologists. Focus groups, at their best, might more aptly be described as a kind of group therapy -- the chief difference being that here the object is to enlighten the interlocutor and not the subjects. more...

January 11, 2004
Dickens to Le Carré – English hostility is deeply rooted: For all the common heritage of language, law and political culture, English anti-Americanism - it might better be called Yank-baiting - has a long literary pedigree. From Dickens to Beerbohm to Waugh to Amis (Kingsley and Martin), English novelists have made fun of the Americans for their vulgarity, pomposity and other traits. more...

January 11, 2004
The New Public Service Ad – Just Say 'Deal With It': 30-second spots, made at cost with the stars donating their time, have been shown on MTV, the WB and other networks. An important component is the corresponding Web site, www.facetheissue.com, a sort of online group therapy session whose users post messages about their problems. more...

January 9, 2004
Reality TV's Ultimate Jungle – Simulated Presidential Politics: Showtime will present a reality show this summer in which contestants go through the motions of a mock presidential campaign until an ultimate winner emerges who would then be free to make a real run for president. more...

January 8, 2004
Many State Arts Councils Make Their Case and Survive Budget Cuts: Remarkably, state arts councils are surviving budget tightening, and many cultural agencies are in much better financial shape today than some had feared a year ago. more...

January 2, 2004
Kennedy, Nixon, and the Culture of the Image: “Our national politics has become a competition for images or between images, rather than between ideals,” said Daniel Boorstin in 1961. At the time, this observation seemed alarming or alarmist. Today, no wisdom is more conventional. more...

January 1, 2004
Expert Picks Biggest Branding Gaffes of 2003: In case you weren't paying attention, branding has been the big buzz word in the marketing world for the past couple of years. Attention must be constantly paid to a brand, or its all-important image can be easily tarnished. Branding guru Kelly O'Keefe has been keeping a watchful eye on a lot of brands during 2003. And he witnessed much that disturbed him. more...

December 30, 2003
2003 – The year TV pandered to us like never before: 2003 was not a big year for slow-moving, introspective dramas or subtly shaded character studies or richly imagined historical reenactments. Instead, some of the more memorable TV programming of the year catered to our basest urges and most primitive instincts as viewers, as wily programmers sought to please our inner teenager... more...

December 30, 2003
An Unrepentant Spammer Vows to Carry On, Within the Law: The world is getting to be a much more hostile place for spammers, particularly those who send some of the most offensive messages. The biggest threat is not so much the new law, though it is expected to play a role in stepped-up enforcement, as the increased willingness of prosecutors to go after spammers. more...

December 29, 2003
Bush's Campaign Finds Platform on Local Radio: Presidents have used radio to reach voters virtually since its invention. But strategists and radio experts say the Bush campaign has taken it to a new level of sophistication, using it far earlier in the campaign cycle and appearing regularly on shows with even the tiniest of audiences. more...

December 29, 2003
More Businesses Are Turning to Paid Listings on Search Engines: For years Internet advertising was written off as ineffective. The most typical ad format - the rectangular banner at the top of the Web page - was simply too small to be creative, informative or otherwise persuasive. So, it is no small surprise that the hottest form of online advertising is now paid listings on search engines - a mere two sentences that make a banner ad look epic in comparison. more...

December 28, 2003
What We Said and What We Meant, A to Z: In a sense, we are what we speak. Good thing the English language, the world's largest at some 650,000 words and growing, is eminently adaptable to the way people change. This year, adapt it did - quickly and often with wit - to modern war, economic uncertainty, technological progress, social change, you name it. more...

December 28, 2003
Ed Rogers, Nixon's Image Maker: Nixon cared inordinately about his image, and it was Rogers's job to make him look good. At a time when many office-seekers scorned modern media techniques, Nixon embraced them. He ushered in a class of political experts who came not from the ranks of ward-heelers and party sachems but from advertising, public relations and television. more...

December 28, 2003
Charles Douglass, and His Laughing Machine: It was called the Laff Box, and it is responsible for an incalculable number of poor sitcom jokes being greeted with bursts of unearned, prerecorded laughter – a.k.a. laugh tracks. more...

December 21, 2003
On the Web, an Amateur Audience Creates Anti-Bush Ads: hen the Web-based political group MoveOn.org announced a contest in October for homemade commercials challenging the Bush administration (the winner to be shown on television during the week of the State of the Union address) grass-roots America proved a willing and eager advertising agency. Thirty-second spots poured in by the hundreds... more...

December 18, 2003
New Technologies – Thin-Air Display Is Promising: Imagine a touch screen on which the elements of the image displayed can be moved around with a fingertip. Now imagine the same scene without the screen: the image can still be moved with a fingertip, but it floats unsupported above a quietly whirring gray box that is connected to a laptop computer. more...

December 8, 2003
Advertisers learning how to get real: Advertising long relied on Rockwellian images of America because mainstream advertisers tend to be conservative, fearful of offending someone and thwarting millions in ad spending. But marketers – and their corporate clients – appear increasingly willing to portray, and pitch products to, a more diverse nation. Although most of the evidence is anecdotal, advertising professionals say they sense a shift. more...

December 8, 2003
In Search of a Way to Get Viewers More Involved With Their TV's: In the era of TiVo, cable and satellite digital video recorders and other technologies that threaten to fast-forward television commercials out of existence, TV programmers are continually fighting back. In that spirit, representatives from major programming groups met last week for what amounted to the final exam for a five-month course at the American Film Institute's Enhanced TV Workshop. more...

December 7, 2003
How Much Is That Death Denial In the Window? Shoppers beware: Do you really need that 42-inch plasma television with surround sound, or does your urge to splurge stem from a narcissistic personality disorder? Such questions are at the heart of "Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for a Good Life in a Materialistic World," a collection of essays published recently by the American Psychological Association that examine the causes and consequences of Americans' insatiable appetite for buying stuff. more...

December 5, 2003
Pentagon and Bogus News: All Is Denied: Early last year Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disbanded the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence after it became known that the office was considering plans to provide false news items to unwitting foreign journalists to influence policymakers and public sentiment abroad. But a couple of months ago, the Pentagon quietly awarded a $300,000 contract to SAIC, a major defense consultant, to study how the Defense Department could design an "effective strategic influence" campaign to combat global terror, according to an internal Pentagon document. more...

November 28, 2003
A Probe Inside the Mind of the Shopper: It's called neuromarketing: Brain scans now offer the slightly alarming prospect of marketers being able to track the deepest desires of consumers and target their advertising accordingly. more...

November 28, 2003
We Are Where We Shop: Low prices reflect democracy. Brand names represent our search for a better life. And designer boutiques embody the promise of an ever-improving self. Yet Americans have made a Faustian deal with the culture of shopping, and especially with bargain culture. The retail prices may be low, but the social costs are high. more...:

November 27, 2003
New Findings: Materialism Damages Well-Being: If I were in advertising, I think I would be starting to worry a bit about findings like these. Our whole economic system, with its targeted annual increases in gross domestic product, is founded upon the concept of satisfying the desire for more; and advertising exists only to help generate that desire. But what if people became convinced that acquisitiveness, rather than adding to their happiness, was standing in its way? more...:

October 26, 2003
Neuromarketing – There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex: Researchers at the Mind of the Market Laboratory at Harvard Business Schoolwork as full-fledged "neuromarketers," conducting brain research with the help of corporate financing and sharing their results with their sponsors. This summer, when it opened its doors for business, the BrightHouse Institute for Thought Sciences in Atlanta became the first neuromarketing firm to boast a Fortune 500 consumer-products company as a client. (The client's identity is currently a secret.) The institute will scan the brains of a representative sample of its client's prospective customers, assess their reactions to the company's products and advertising and tweak the corporate image accordingly. more...:

October 2, 2003
Internet TV Will Increase the Dominance of American Content Worldwide: As broadband internet spreads around the world, television distribution over the new medium moves from experimentation to commercial possibility. The question then arises of whether this medium will be dominated by US content, as film and television have been. Will TV over the internet be American? more...: