Sponsorship, Advertising and Organizational Communication
Edited By Paola Evangelisti Allori and Giuliana Elena Garzone
CECILIA BOGGIO Automobile Advertising for Cultural Elites: A Multimodal Analysis 1. Introduction 1.1. High-concept advertising and the élites Already in the early 1920s, advertising for automobiles stood at the cutting edge of commercial promotion in the United States. The domestic rivalry between Ford and General Motors and the rapid expansion of the American car industry abroad after World War I had quickly shifted the focus from the production of the car as a commodity to its transformation into discourse (i.e. advertising and media representations). From its inception, the medium of advertising targeted a public in need of broad guidance, not just about product attributes but also about taste, social correctness, and psychological satisfaction. In other words, such form of communication anticipated the distinction – proposed fifty years later by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1979: 4-5) – between ‘popular aesthetic’ and the ‘aesthetic of the elites’, targeting from the very beginning the former rather than the latter. For this reason, advertising has traditionally embraced a wide cross-class mass of customers. The ‘elites’ – in the sense of a lifestyle grouping or market segment – have rarely been the main, let alone the sole, target of the advertising campaigns of corporate giants. ‘Marlboro Friday’ (April 2, 1993) marked a watershed in the history of advertising, establishing a new trend.1 As a consequence of 1 On that day, Philip Morris suddenly announced a 20% price cut to their Marlboro cigarettes to fight back against the bargain brand competitors who were increasingly eating into their market share....
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