The transformation of values in American magazine advertisements between 1965–2005

Celik Elmer, Candan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9649-9421, Larson, Mitchell J. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5506-0815 and Smart, Andrea (2014) The transformation of values in American magazine advertisements between 1965–2005. In: We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life… And Always Has. Bloomsbury Publishing, California, US. ISBN 978-0-313-39244-3

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The origins of the globalization debate introduced the term Americanization, along with its close corollary Westernization, but our picture of global culture has become more complex over the past two decades. Some of the most popular American brands worldwide, including Budweiser, Purina, Thinkpad, 7-Eleven, Vaseline, Alka-Seltzer, Lucky Strike, Ben & Jerry’s, Firestone, Hellmann’s, and Chrysler, have been sold to foreign companies. Alongside these economic changes, the proportion of ethnic minorities in United States continues to grow each year, suggesting a changing dynamic in economic and cultural terms.
Advertising management theory suggests that advertising reflects the values of society, but also influences cultural values in a recursive formulation. It is a well- established practice to investigate cultural values through adverts in order to explore changes within societies. In cross-cultural advertising research there are many studies that investigate the changes of values in emerging markets, or compare these markets with American markets. Such research is enacted under the broad critical rubric that Western countries exercise the power to change the attitudes, behaviours and habits of people in non-Western countries in pursuit of wider markets for their own products and services. On the other hand, there are few longitudinal studies that explore changes in those values over the long term and there is little or no research on exploring the changes of American values in the longer term and the possible effects of globalization on the United States.
The aim of this study is to explore the changes of American values expressed through advertising over a 40-year period between 1965-2005, and to investigate the levels of influence by globalization and global culture.
Using Pollay’s (1983) value coding procedure, this study analyses 433 magazine advertisements that appeared over the 40-year period, published in 1965, 1985 and 2005 using a content analysis technique. Pollay’s values are categorized by Geert Hofstede’s (2001) cultural dimensions: individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity-femininity. The data is collected from American general interest magazines in three different categories: services, personal hygiene, and food and beverages. Native English speakers raised in the United States worked independently to code the data.

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