Class shaming in post-recession U.S. advertising

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Class is an issue rarely foregrounded in advertising criticism, although the emphasis on consumption and commodity-defined images of the good life frequently makes advertising a class-oriented discourse. The degree and manner that advertising contains overt symbols and discussions of class may be influenced by the particular era in which a campaign appears. This article argues that several "postrecession" U.S. campaigns including for Buick, Allstate, and DirecTV make class comparisons explicit, as seen in "class shaming" strategies such as a ridicule of service workers, presenting the wealthy as victimized by the working class, and "lower-classface" performances that contrast class-based lifestyles. In such ads, representations of the working class are equated with losers, incompetents, and non-brand users in the ads, while affluent users and opulent lifestyles are celebrated. Final reflections focus on the ideological implications of more obvious depictions of class in current and future advertising.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-156
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Communication Inquiry
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

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recession
Marketing
working class
campaign
commodity
symbol
criticism
worker
Recession
discourse
performance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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abstract = "Class is an issue rarely foregrounded in advertising criticism, although the emphasis on consumption and commodity-defined images of the good life frequently makes advertising a class-oriented discourse. The degree and manner that advertising contains overt symbols and discussions of class may be influenced by the particular era in which a campaign appears. This article argues that several {"}postrecession{"} U.S. campaigns including for Buick, Allstate, and DirecTV make class comparisons explicit, as seen in {"}class shaming{"} strategies such as a ridicule of service workers, presenting the wealthy as victimized by the working class, and {"}lower-classface{"} performances that contrast class-based lifestyles. In such ads, representations of the working class are equated with losers, incompetents, and non-brand users in the ads, while affluent users and opulent lifestyles are celebrated. Final reflections focus on the ideological implications of more obvious depictions of class in current and future advertising.",
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Class shaming in post-recession U.S. advertising. / McAllister, Matthew Paul; Aupperle, Anna.

In: Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2017, p. 140-156.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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