Selling Modernity

Advertising in Twentieth-Century Germany

Selling Modernity

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: 59 illustrations Published: August 2007

History > European History, Media Studies > Communication, Sociology

The sheer intensity and violence of Germany’s twentieth century—through the end of an empire, two world wars, two democracies, and two dictatorships—provide a unique opportunity to assess the power and endurance of commercial imagery in the most extreme circumstances. Selling Modernity places advertising and advertisements in this tumultuous historical setting, exploring such themes as the relationship between advertising and propaganda in Nazi Germany, the influence of the United States on German advertising, the use of advertising to promote mass consumption in West Germany, and the ideological uses and eventual prohibition of advertising in East Germany.

While the essays are informed by the burgeoning literature on consumer society, Selling Modernity focuses on the actors who had the greatest stake in successful merchandising: company managers, advertising executives, copywriters, graphic artists, market researchers, and salespeople, all of whom helped shape the depiction of a company’s products, reputation, and visions of modern life. The contributors consider topics ranging from critiques of capitalism triggered by the growth of advertising in the 1890s to the racial politics of Coca-Cola’s marketing strategies during the Nazi era, and from the post-1945 career of an erotica entrepreneur to a federal anti-drug campaign in West Germany. Whether analyzing the growing fascination with racialized discourse reflected in early-twentieth-century professional advertising journals or the postwar efforts of Lufthansa to lure holiday and business travelers back to a country associated with mass murder, the contributors reveal advertising’s central role in debates about German culture, business, politics, and society.

Contributors. Shelley Baranowski, Greg Castillo, Victoria de Grazia, Guillaume de Syon, Holm Friebe, Rainer Gries, Elizabeth Heineman, Michael Imort, Anne Kaminsky, Kevin Repp , Corey Ross, Jeff Schutts, Robert P. Stephens, Pamela E. Swett, S. Jonathan Wiesen, Jonathan R. Zatlin


Selling Modernity seeks not only to reconstruct the history of German advertising, but also to place this history within a broader framework of the emergence of new cultures of consumption. . . . [T]his excellent collection adds a new level to our understanding of German history.” — Gideon Reuveni, Central European History

“The volume’s uniformly excellent essays make a compelling and coherent case for several trends in twentieth-century advertising that mirror unique developments in Germany but also reflect wider transformations in the industrialized world. . . . This collection’s chronological and thematic investigations make for a coherent and continually fascinating, well-told story.” — Marion F. Deshmukh, American Historical Review

“The essays in this volume constitute a useful contribution to a relatively small body of literature written in English concerning the development and practice of marketing in Germany during the twentieth century.” — Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb, Enterprise & Society

“This collection is suitable, above all, for readers interested in the complicated nature of societies undergoing mass change at the time of the reification of the image.” — Craig Johnson, Media International Australia

“This is a welcome addition to the literature of both consumption and advertising in Europe.” — Josie McLellan, Economic History Review

Selling Modernity is an excellent collection; every essay is superb. The contributors examine advertising and public relations in contrasting contexts: a monarchy, a liberal democracy, a popular dictatorship, a cold war democracy, a communist dictatorship, and a post–cold war reunited nation: what a historical laboratory!” — Claudia Koonz, author of The Nazi Conscience

“A highly readable and wide-ranging compilation of innovative essays on German advertising and the people who produced it under dramatically different political regimes. This major contribution to understanding the culturally specific workings of modern economies will be of interest to specialists, students, and a broader audience.” — Uta G. Poiger, author of Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany

“Advertising—this imaginative, erratic, and invasive aspect of capitalism—finds in Selling Modernity a creative and resourceful interpreter. The book marks an important shift from recent studies on consumer culture by emphasizing advertising as the link between production and consumption. It excellently shows that the ethical and economic meanings of advertisements were above all a reflection of Germans’ fantasies and dreams between 1871 and 1990.” — Alon Confino, author of Germany as a Culture of Remembrance: Promises and Limits of Writing History


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Pamela E. Swett is Associate Professor of History at McMaster University. She is the author of Neighbors and Enemies: The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin, 1929–1933.

S. Jonathan Wiesen is Associate Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of West German Industry and the Challenge of the Nazi Past, 1945–1955.

Jonathan R. Zatlin is Assistant Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of The Currency of Socialism: Money and Political Culture in East Germany.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Foreword / Victoria de Grazia xiii

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction / Pamela E. Swett, S. Jonathan Wiesen, and Jonathan R. Zatlin 1

1. Marketing, Modernity, and “the German People’s Soul”: Advertising and Its Enemies in Late Imperial Germany, 1896-1914 / Kevin Repp 27

2. Visions of Prosperity: The Americanization of Advertising in Interwar Germany / Corey Ross 52

3. Branding Germany: Hans Domizlaff’s Markentechnik and Its Ideological Impact / Holm Friebe 78

4. “Planting a Forest Tall and Straight like the German Volk”: Visualizing the Volksgemeinschaft through Advertising in German Forestry Journals, 1933-1945 / Michael Imort 102

5. Selling the “Racial Community”: Kraft durch Freude and Consumption in the Third Reich / Shelley Baranowski 127

6. “Die erfrischende Pause”: Marketing Coca-Cola in Hitler’s Germany / Jeff Schutts 151

7. Lufthansa Welcomes You: Air Transport and Tourism in the Adenauer Era / Guillaume de Syon 182

8. “The History of Morals in the Federal Republic”: Advertising, PR, and the Beate Ushe Myth / Elizabeth Heineman 202

9. “Wowman! The World’s Most Famous Drug-Dog”: Advertising, the State, and the Paradox of Consumerism in the Federal Republic / Robert P. Stephens 230

10. “True Advertising Means Promoting a Good Thing through a Good Form”: Advertising in the German Democratic Republic / Anne Kaminsky 262

11. Promoting Socialist Cities and Citizens: East Germany’s National Building Program / Greg Castillo 287

12. “Serve Yourself!” The History and Theory of Self-Service in West and East Germany / Rainer Gries 307

Bibliography 329

Contributors 347

Index 351
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4069-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4047-8
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