Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising

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Guilford Press, 1996 - Business & Economics - 322 pages
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Television has become so saturated with commercials that it is difficult at times to tell the different images apart, much less remember or care about them. But, on closer look, television commercials can tell us a great deal about the interplay of market forces, contemporary culture, and corporate politics. This book views contemporary ad culture as an ever-accelerating war of meaning. The authors show how corporate symbols or signs vie for attention-span and market share by appropriating and quickly abandoning diverse elements of culture to differentiate products that may be in themselves virtually indistinguishable. The resulting "sign wars" are both a cause and a consequence of a media culture that is cynical and jaded, but striving for authenticity.
Including more than 100 illustrations and numerous examples from recent campaigns, this book provides a critical review of the culture of advertising. It exposes the contradictions that stem from turning culture into a commodity, and illuminates the impact of television commercials on the way we see and understand the world around us.
  

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Contents

Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning
1
Constructing Sign Values
5
The Logic of Appropriation
8
Value Added
11
Floating Signifiers and the Image Bank
14
Spirals of Referentiality Speed and Reflexivity
15
Cultural Crisis and Contradiction
17
Sign Wars
20
The Sign Wars Version
137
Collective Amnesia?
139
Authenticity in the Age of the Poseur
141
Finding Yourself in a World of Commodity Relations
143
Authenticity and the Bourgeoisie
145
Commodifying Signs of the Organic
148
Auteurs in the Age of Flexible Accumulation
154
Nature as Authenticity
156

Sign Wars and Semiotics
24
Differentiation Imitation and the Circulation of Sign Values
27
Strategies for Sign Wars
31
The Antisign
46
Rereading Image Disputes
53
Advertising in the Age of Hyper signification
55
Realist Conventions
58
Hyperreal Encoding
62
Intertextualify
68
Reflexivity
74
Hyperactivity
77
The Contradictions of Sign Values
78
Yo Hailing the Alienated Spectator
83
Addressing the Savvy Spectator
87
Negative Appellation
91
Gender and Alienation in Sign Wars
95
Disguising the Alienated Mode of Address
99
Nothing Up Our Sleeve
100
Falsified Metacommunication and Resistance
102
The Competition in Shock Value
103
The Profane
105
Before Your Future Gets Here You Know What You Gotta Do
108
Grinning at the Annihilation of Everyday Life
110
The Flip Side of Jadedness Memory and a Sense of Place
115
Schmaltzy Gemeinschaft
117
Reestablishing Relations with Our Past
124
Blasts from Our Past
127
A Moment in the Hegemony of Memory
130
Nature as a Sign of Distinction
157
Otherness
160
Antispectacular Awareness
170
Authenticity as Representation
174
The Authenticity of Death
181
The Death of Authenticity?
184
Green Marketing and the Commodity Self
187
The Commodity Self and the Death of Nature
188
From Nature Signifiers to Green Marketing
191
Commodity Advertising
194
Legitimation Advertising
200
The Spectacle of the Environment
209
The Greening of Commodity Signs
213
The Corporate Politics of Sign Values
216
Hybrid Ads
220
Building Corporate Sign Values
224
Abbreviating Public Discourse
249
Corporate Ads and Public Debate
252
The Era of Chronic Legitimation Crisis?
254
Sneakerization and Hyperculture
256
Competing to Hail the Channel Surfer
261
A Commodity Community?
267
The Spectacle in the Fractured Marketplace
271
Notes
275
Bibliography
295
Index
310
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Robert L. Goldman, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.

Stephen Papson, Ph.D, is Professor of Sociology at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.

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