Forever immortalized in the television series Mad Men, the mid-twentieth century marketing world influenced nearly every aspect of American culture--music, literature, politics, economics, consumerism, race relations, gender, and more. In Engineered to Sell, Jan Logemann traces the transnational careers of consumer engineers in advertising, market research and commercial design who transformed capitalism, from the 1930s through the 1960s. He argues that the history of marketing consumer goods is not a story of American exceptionalism. Instead, the careers of immigrants point to the limits of the "Americanization" paradigm. First, Logemann explains the rise of a dynamic world of goods by emphasizing changes in marketing approaches increasingly tailored to consumers. Second, he looks at how and why consumer engineering was shaped by transatlantic exchanges. From Austrian psychologists and little-known social scientists to the illustrious Bauhaus artists, the migr s at the center of this story illustrate the vibrant cultural and commercial connections between metropolitan centers: Vienna and New York; Paris and Chicago; Berlin and San Francisco. These mid-century consumer engineers crossed national and disciplinary boundaries not only within arts and academia but also between governments, corporate actors, and social reform movements. By focusing on the transnational lives of migr consumer researchers, marketers, and designers, Engineered to Sell details the processes of cultural translation and adaptation that mark both the mid-century transformation of American marketing and the subsequent European shift to "American" consumer capitalism.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 352
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"Engineered to Sell delivers a fresh look at the development of consumer capitalism in the United States and Europe by focusing on the substantial contributions made by German and Austrian emigre designers, psychologists, and advertisers to the culture of buying and selling in the United States. Importantly, Logemann argues as well that despite their role in its development, many of these same experts recognized the more destructive aspects of American-style consumerism and warned against fully embracing the model on their return to Europe in the 1950s."-- "Pamela Swett, McMaster University"
"Engineered to Sell traces the history of an educated, intellectually sophisticated group of immigrants who came to the United States from Central Europe at midcentury and helped to transform market research, marketing practice, product design, and corporate identity branding. These Central Europeans carried their traditions and their theories, their drawing boards and their design strategies, all of which they adapted to the American scene. This important story of cultural transfer not only widens our understanding midcentury American capitalism but also provides a much-needed counterpoint to familiar narratives on the Americanization of postwar Europe."-- "Regina Lee Blaszczyk, University of Leeds"