Testimonial Advertising in the American Marketplace: Emulation, Identity, Community

Hardcover | December 18, 2009

byM. MoskowitzEditorMarlis Schweitzer

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This book explores the history and practice of testimonial advertising in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, addressing a surprising lack of scholarship on this enduring and pervasive marketing tool. Treating consumers as neither the victims nor the empowered foes of corporate practices, the authors gathered here contribute to new scholarship at the intersection of cultural and business history by examining how testimonials mediate negotiations between producers and consumers and shape modern cultural attitudes about social identity, advice, community, celebrity, and the consumption of brand-name goods and services.

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This book explores the history and practice of testimonial advertising in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, addressing a surprising lack of scholarship on this enduring and pervasive marketing tool. Treating consumers as neither the victims nor the empowered foes of corporate practices, the authors g...

Marlis Schweitzer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre at York University, Toronto. She is the author of When Broadway Was the Runway: Theater, Fashion, and American Culture (2009), which examines how collaborations between the theatre and fashion industries contributed to the development of modern American consumer cul...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 8.5 × 5.51 × 0.03 inPublished:December 18, 2009Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230615600

ISBN - 13:9780230615601

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction / Marina Moskowitz and Marlis Schweitzer * Testimonials in Silk: Juba and the Legitimization of American Blackface Minstrelsy in Britain / Stephen B. Johnson * ‘The Testifying Subject’: Reliability in Nineteenth-Century Marketing, Science, and Law / Mike Pettit * ‘After a season of war’: Sharing Horticultural Success in the Reconstruction-Ear Landscape / Marina Moskowitz * ‘The Ten Year Club’: Artificial Limbs and Testimonials in the Early Twentieth Century / Edward Slavishak * ‘The Mad Search for Beauty’: Actresses, Cosmetics, and the Middle-Class Market / Marlis Schweitzer * ‘I am Kay and I Prefer Modern’: Bridal Testimonials and the Rise of Consumer Rites, 1920s-1950s / Vicki Howard * ‘Dear Friend’: Charles Atlas, American Masculinity, and the Bodybuilding Testimonial, 1894-1944 / Dominique Padurano * ‘For Us, By Us’: Hip Hop Fashion, Commodity Blackness and the Culture of Emulation / Mary Rizzo

Editorial Reviews

“Steeped as we are today in celebrity brands and viral marketing, we find it difficult to imagine a world where the market's word-of-mouth operated quite differently. Thanks to these original and engaging articles, though, we can now track the fascinating strategies that enabled American advertising to recast the question of consumer trust, liberating it from the rigid protocols of patrician sponsorship and immersing it in the complex, modern mix of mass celebrity, technical expertise, domestic authority, and street cred. Each page brings us something new.”--Jean-Christophe Agnew, Professor of American Studies and History, Yale University“This volume of essays charts the cultural history of a phenomenon that influences us all, one whose power we are reluctant to acknowledge. Testimonials are centuries old and utterly contemporary, and these essays illuminate the many aspects of their role in making consumer culture.  If you’ve ever wondered why we are so willing to take the word of others when we buy, whether from Oprah or a neighbor down the street, this book offers compelling explanations – and a host of new questions to ponder.”--Charles F. McGovern, Associate Professor of American Studies and History, College of William and Mary“Finally! A wonderful study of the centrality of testimonials to 20th century advertising. With insightful essays on consumer deception, blackface performance, seed advertising and celebrity culture, among other excellent contributions, Testimonial Advertising represents the leading edge of the cultural turn of the ‘new business history. It is a must-read for scholars of business, culture, and modern consumerism.”--Elspeth H. Brown, Director, Centre for the Study of the United States, University of Toronto