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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Aaron Burr Shoots Alexander Hamilton: Books about Commericals

On this day in 1804, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel. So to mark it, here's a list of books about commericals and advertising. What do those have in common? Well, I think most people my age remember that Aaron Burr shot Hamilton because of the very first Got Milk? commercial:


    

Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know by Shari Gordon, illustrated by Warren Clark. Part history of advertising, part examination of the tricks advertisers use, part guide to decoding advertising, this book is both enlightening and fun to read.

Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers by Nancy Amanda Redd. This is a no-holds-barred look at real female bodies (which means lots of pictures of a wide range of women, sometimes naked) and the issues they face--medical, physical, and emotional. I'm including it on the list because there is a section on common airbrushing, lighting, posing, and photo-editing tricks that are often used in advertising.

Twenty Ads That Shook the World: The Century's Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How It Changed Us All by James B. Twitchell. This book looks at 20 ads (Apple's 1984 Mac Ad, LBJ's mushroom cloud) or long-range campaigns (Coca-Cola's Santa ads, Nike's Just Do It) and the impact they had on the advertising and pop culture landscape. (For instance, Coke really solidified what Santa looks like.)

    

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal. While this is mostly a biography of Steve Jobs, it does focus heavily on Apple's advertising campaigns and how they helped build Apple's reputation and mystique.

Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom. Lindstrom has written several books about the dark side of advertising and how companies deliberately play on our fears and mislead us.

Feed by M. T. Anderson. This book has one of the best first lines in fiction--"We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." In this future world, everyone has a brain chip that allows you to surf the web and message your friends. Banner ads tell you what to think, do, but most importantly, buy. But when someone hacks into the Feed and turns it off, a population that's never thought for itself has no idea what to do.

    

British Posters: Advertising, Art & Activism by Catherine Flood. This is a great collection of posters from the V&A museum--many are historic ad campaigns, both governmental and corporate.

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott. You know those get-rich-quick pyramid schemes you see advertised on infomercials where you buy a bunch of stuff from a company to resell? Kate's dad fell for it and now sells vitamins at a mall kiosk--and makes Kate work with him. Her best friend's gone popular, and Will, the hook-up king, just won't leave her alone.

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Because... you know... Hamilton...

What books do you recommend about advertising?

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