Selling the Dream
Why Advertising Is Good Business
by John Hood
October 2005, 272pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98435-9
$95, £74, 83€, A131
Paperback: 978-0-313-36187-6
$35, £27, 31€, A48
eBook Available: 978-0-313-03687-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A colorful history of advertising that makes the case for its necessity in a free-market society.

The process of producing goods and services is relatively easy to recognize as socially beneficial. But television ads? Telemarketers? Jingles? Junk mail? It is popular to view these commercial activities as inherently wasteful or manipulative, marginally informative or entertaining, at best. In Selling the Dream, John Hood takes the provocative stand that advertising images and sales pitches are actually part of the goods and services themselves, delivering an essential component of the consumer’s experience. As such, they are inextricably linked to the basic tenets of the free-market system, and, in the boldest of terms, Hood argues that commercial communication is morally consistent with the principles of our democratic society, including freedom of choice, competition, and innovation. Tracing the history of advertising from Ancient Roman times to the present, he offers a colorful account of advertising in its cultural context and addresses such controversial issues as the promotion of harmful and immoral products (such as alcohol and tobacco), marketing to children, the role of advertising in service industries such as health care and education, and the impact of the Internet and other new media on the conduct of commerce. In the process, he offers a compelling perspective on advertising and its essential role in business, communication, and popular culture.


"Hood provides a fascinating look into the world of advertising and beyond to support his view that advertising provides a societal good: it promotes freedom of choice, competition, and innovation. As written by Hood, the evolution of advertising is quite an interesting journey. Although advertising is generally regarded as a modern phenomenon, the author traces the growth of promotion and commerce back to cobblers in Babylonia who hung shoes on their shop doors 5,000 years ago. Merchants of ancient Rome used such advertising techniques as pictures, brand names, and slogans to differentiate their wares. Each century has added its own stamp to the art of advertising, with town criers, handbills, newspapers, radio, and television all providing new ways to reach successive generations of consumers. Hood notes that no less an advertiser than Benjamin Franklin used advertising to differentiate his famous stove from others that would damage the eyes ... and shrivel the skin. He examines a wide range of advertising topics, including conspicuous consumption, product health claims, and economic and societal factors. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate marketing students, faculty, researchers, and practitioners, as well as anyone interested in advertising."—Choice, April 1, 2006

"Consultant and journalist Hood reacts to how Americans feel in general about advertising by reminding them that marketing fulfills desires and demand while increasing profits and often making or breaking whole businesses and industries. Along with very well-chosen (and very funny) examples of how Americans feel and deal with advertising as represented in popular culture. Hood is brutally honest about why some may perceive advertising as a trail of lies, showing that in fact the industry is held to a rather strict set of standards and tends to react to that same consumer desire and demand that helps to define it."—Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2006
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.