Inside the Advertising Industry: A Reading List

Photo: SenseiAlan

From fashion bloggers to food “fluffers,” it takes a village to make you want to buy stuff. Why do some brands connect with us, while others take us by surprise or make us angry? Here are six stories examining the advertising industry.

1. “Nice to Meat You.” (Adam Kotsko, The New Inquiry, February 2015)

On the creepiness of the Burger King king (you know the one), Freud’s “uncanny,” and more. (This excerpt is a classic example of why I love The New Inquiry.)

2. “The Problem With Those ‘Feminist’ Super Bowl Ads.” (Ann Friedman, The Cut, February 2015)

If the companies behind empowering advertisements aren’t interested in their own purported ideals, why should we invest emotionally, let alone financially? “How much of its annual profit is Always diverting to girls’ empowerment programs? What sort of paternity-leave policies are in place at Dove and Nissan — and do those companies support better federal family-leave laws for all parents? How is the NFL changing its policies, not just its messaging, toward players who abuse their partners?”

3. “The Click Clique.” (Francesca Mari, Texas Monthly, September 2014)

How Amber Venz Box’s affiliate marketing scheme, rewardStyle, transformed fashion bloggers into an advertising force–front rows at Fashion Week, swagged-out conferences, six-figure commissions and brand partnerships–in the midst of a recession.

4. “Food Fluffers.” (Aaron Labaree, Narratively, November 2012)

Rather than wrought perfectly, today’s en vogue food photography is messy and “natural.” Food stylist Brian Preston-Campbell carries tweezers, floss and gloves in his toolkit–just in case–as he creates “something you want to eat this moment (‘food porn,’ as legions of photo-happy food bloggers call it).”

5. & 6.

I enjoyed this strange meditation on the cult of Abercrombie & Fitch:

(“Forevercrombie,” Natasha Stagg, DIS Magazine, August 2013)

And this snarky examination of Gap’s bizarre, celebrity-studded “Dress Normal” ad campaign:

(“‘Dress Normal.’ What Does That Mean, Exactly?” Rebecca Cullers, AdWeek, August 2014)