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The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism Paperback – 1 Dec 1998

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (1 Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226260127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226260129
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 551,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

Read an excerpt online.

THE CONQUEST OF COOL is a new take on the Sixties, a re-juggling of the icons, an overturning of the shibboleths. Tom Frank takes a sharp look at the business culture of the 1960s and its relation to the counterculture of the Sixties. Todd Gitlin called the book "a forceful and convincing demonstration of the cunning of commercialism. Advertisers knew what was hip before hippie entrepreneurs, and this story, told here with verve and lucidity, is well worth the attention of all serious readers."

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY gave the book a starred review: "bristlingly intelligent . . . adroitly illuminates the intricacies behind the familiar stories of the '60s . . . frequently brilliant."

You may read an excerpt from Chapter One at
<http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/259919.html>

Tom Frank is founder/editor of the Chicago-based journal of literature and cultural criticism, THE BAFFLER. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

While the youth counterculture remains the most evocative and best-remembered symbol of the cultural ferment of the 1960s, the revolution that shook American business during those boom years has gone largely unremarked. In this fascinating and revealing new study, Thomas Frank shows how the youthful revolutionaries were joined - and even anticipated by - such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men's clothing business. In both areas, each having also been an important pillar of fifties conservatism, the utopian, complacent surface of postwar consumerism was smashed by a new breed of admen and manufacturers who openly addressed public distrust of their industries, who recognized the absurdity of consumer society, who made war on conformity, and who finally settled on youth rebellion and counterculture as the symbol of choice for their new marketing vision. The Conquest of Cool is a thorough history of advertising as well as an incisive commentary on the evolution of a peculiarly American sensibility, the pervasive co-optation that defines today's hip commercial culture. By studying the devices and institutions of co-optation rather than those of resistance, Frank offers a picture of the 1960s that differs dramatically from the accounts of youth rebellion and sell-out that have become so familiar over the years. The Conquest of Cool forsakes the stories of campus and bohemia to follow the Dodge Rebellion, chronicle the Pepsi Generation, and recount the Peacock Revolution - by so doing, it raises important new questions about the culture of that most celebrated and maligned decade. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In "The Conquest of Cool," reporter Thomas Frank writes of the evolution in the advertising industry from the rigid science and philosophy espoused by past masters like David Ogilvy to the creative, rule-breaking, no-rules era (about 1959 to about 1970) begun by Doyle, Dane and Bernbach's revolutionary Volkswagen print ads, which were introduced in 1959. Frank's text shows how advertising's images of consumption evolved from phony promises of a better life for white, nuclear families to the hip-based brand of product cool that still exists today. Eventually, Frank gets to what this reader assumed to be his point: advertising's co-optation of counterculture's cool and the way both groups influenced each other. But he merely asserts this radical shift in advertising (truly the bellwether of contemporary culture) happened overnight and illustrates his points with examples from the cola and menswear industries. But rampant generalization doesn't spoil Frank's fascinating dissertation. He's done his homework, speaks passionately about his subject and maintains an unusual conversational approach (half academic, half deranged fan). Once the reader forgives Frank's multitude of overgeneralizations and the way he casually mixes media (in an era where distinctions became quite noticeable), there is actually a lot to consider and much to enjoy in "The Conquest of Cool." A special bonus for ad-addicts is the 19 print ads reproduced in the center of the book.
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Format: Paperback
Everyone seems to have an opinion about hip but on what authority do they base their judgments? The Conquest of Cool provides the model for hip's cooptation in the 60s and argues that without cooptation perhaps there is no hip. That usually gets the purest going but the truth is that hip starts as art and end up becoming commercial - or you just don't know about it... So that's the choice - if it's good and has wider potential, it gets coopted - or the vast majority of the population will never hear about it. Some reviews are negative on the grounds that the author is pointing out the obvious, like I just did - but sometimes the obvious is the most difficult to explain - and this book does that well (for those who like social literature as it is quite academic).
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Format: Paperback
The Conquest of Cool looks at the 60's counterculture revolution from the perspective of the advertising and consumer goods industry. Thomas Franks manages to square the circle, showing how the hippies that hated The Man influenced modern society. Frank draws on the parallels of how Bill Bernbach started to think differently about advertising and the new youth obsession reflected in the Pepsi Generation idea which started the famous cola wars. He charted how advertising creatives brought psychadelia into radio, print and television advertising and how the fashion industry lost out when it got on the 'peacock parade' train.

Rather than being a rebellion against the consumer culture, the counterculture rejuvenated the consumer experience. The plenty of America in the 1950s was no longer enough, consumers wanted authentic differentiated items that declared their self-identity.
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Format: Hardcover
though sometimes wordy, this analysis of the history of advertising in America in the '60s is exhaustive and engrossing. i've never read anything like it. reading this book has made me extra-aware of the advertisements around me and more sensitive to the ways i interact with them. if you enjoy the baffler or have fun laughing along with Fast Company; you will love this book.
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