J201 Section 310
23 October 2013
Advertising is an important media forum that affects each and every human’s daily life. Understanding it and how it applies to us individually and as a culture is important for being a well-informed opinion-maker. This is exactly what Douglas Rushkoff attempts to explain in chapter five of his book Coercion: why believe what ‘they’ say about advertising. The chapter disseminates the history of advertising, from the ploy of sensitizing viewers, to the highly complicated techniques involving the audience’s sense of self of today. Rushkoff says these advertising strategies, as well as the many in-between, create a narrative of the history of advertising, and his illustrative examples solidify his definition of these strategies. Considering Rushkoff’s background, how his background affects the content he presents, and why we can trust his evaluation of the evolution of advertising techniques gives an insight to the minds of advertisers and how they control our thoughts.
Reading Douglas Rushkoff’s biography makes the average academic, advocator, researcher, commentator, writer, musician, award-winner, and superhero feel under qualified. Rushkoff would call himself an author of influential books who lectures about media, society, and economics around the world. He is recognized internationally as a leader in the media communications field, an educator at prestigious universities, such as NYU, a screenwriter for award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries, a commentator for the most well recognized media sources in the world, for example, The New York Times, CNN, and NPR, and as an advisor for non-profit, for-profit, and other companies and organizations like the UN and The National Association for Media Literacy (About). Rushkoff is obviously knowledgeable in the history of advertising and its affects as well as many other aspects of media and journalism.
The claims that Rushkoff makes about the history of adversting must not only be trusted because of his qualification, but also because of the validity of his arguments. He maps the history of advertising using various types of examples. Some of which are relatable to the un-educated media consumer, for example, the image of a grandpa watching a TV movie who has been trained as a media viewer to identify with a particular character’s dilemma and accept the underlying agenda of the advertisement. Other examples Rushkoff uses are complicated, like the story of the Amstel brand’s creation of a marketing story in the news to spread its message (Coercion). These various examples show that Rushkoff has a good grasp of the history of advertising and that he does not only see the advertisers side, but also the consumers. His only critics argue that some of his arguments are “wildly speculative and overly alarmist;” however, these critics also recognize that his information is factual and convincing (Kirkus Reviews).
In conclusion, the publication of this chapter of Coercion is one that can be trusted. Digging deeper into the media and communications background of this author shows that he wrote this chapter because he thinks educating people about the history of advertisers techniques is important for helping them understand how media and communication effects them.
Word Count: 514
1. (n.a.) May 20th 2010. Kirkus Reviews: Coercion why we listen to what ‘they’ say. Retrieved Oct 19th 2013 from: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/douglas-rushkoff/coercion/
2. Rushkoff, Douglas. September 1st 1999. Riverhead. Coercion: why we listen to what ‘they’ say. New York: Riverhead.
3. Rushkoff, Douglas. (n.d.) About. Retrieved October 19th 2013 from: http://www.rushkoff.com/about/