The Conquest of Cool looks at the 60’s counterculture revolution from the perspective of the advertising and consumer goods industry. Thomas Franks manages to square the circle, showing how the hippies that hated The Man influenced modern society. Frank draws on the parallels of how Bill Bernbach started to think differently about advertising and the new youth obsession reflected in the Pepsi Generation idea which started the famous cola wars. He charted how advertising creatives brought psychadelia into radio, print and television advertising and how the fashion industry lost out when it got on the ‘peacock parade’ train.
Rather than being a rebellion against the consumer culture, the counterculture rejuvenated the consumer experience. The plenty of America in the 1950s was no longer enough, consumers wanted authentic differentiated items that declared their self-identity. In this respect there is a clear parallel between the desires of the 1960s consumer and his modern-day counterpart – otherwise there would not be a market for Amazon’s variety of books, blogging platforms, eBay, Moo and etsy. More book reviews here.