Hard sell

Advertising, affluence and transatlantic relations, c. 1951–69

Advertising agencies were important conduits through which the norms of American consumption travelled eastwards across the Atlantic. This book explores the institutional developments in British advertising and the wider shape of the market for advertising services in the 1950s and 1960s. It details the growing internationalism of the advertising industry in Britain, including the increased presence of US-owned agencies in London and deals with the concern with the apparent 'Americanization'of British commerce. Considering its relationship with its parent company, the book explores the dynamics of Anglo-American advertising relations within the J Walter Thompson (JWT) company. It looks at the uses and development of market research within JWT London and allied companies, and examines the techniques that were used to generate ways of understanding the 'mass housewife'. It was the legacy of British documentary film making which helped to give a distinctive British character and feel to many of the early TV commercials produced in the 1950s and 1960s. The book explores the ways in which TV advertising focused on commercials which promoted washing powders, washing machines and convenience foods. It considers the reception of advertising by cultural critics and by those concerned with the broader governance of commercial life and consumption. The advertising people offered a positive and spirited defence of the role they performed and the pleasures of mass consumption in the age of affluence. For critics, advertising was seen as a harbinger of American 'hard sell' techniques of salesmanship within British business.

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‘Nixon's Hard Sell is a valuable addition to the field of advertising history that brings a much-needed transatlantic analysis to the fore.'
Stephanie American
H-Diplo
October 2016

‘This is an impressive piece of sustained research that brings much to the field. It offers real depth in rethinking the post-war boom and there can be little doubt that this will have a real impact across modern British history, consumer history and cultural studies.'
Jeremy Black, Professor of History, University of Exeter

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