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Title: Selling the sizzle : General Motors car advertising in the 1950s
Author: Jones, C. M.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1995
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This thesis examines how General Motors utilised myth and fantasy in selling the "sizzle" of their cars in the 1950s. Despite the total lack of technological innovation GM managed to sell large numbers of cars by persuading consumers that their products were new and exciting. This thesis argues that the origins of GM advertising can be seen during the 1920s and 1930s and that in the 1950s the advertising conventions of this period were perpetuated and supplemented by American historical and cultural myths. The thesis also argues that throughout the 1950s, GM in spite of spending vast sums of money on research, failed to produce a better and cheaper product. Instead it preferred to sell profitable fantasies. The thesis examines why the American car industry was unable to sustain the "fantasy" styling idiom beyond the 1950s. In relation to this the thesis considers how the fantasy idiom not only exhausted itself but how, by the late 1950s, it started to look ridiculous in the light of the success of the Russian Sputnik and economic recession. The thesis demonstrates that 1950s cars, buoyed by extravagant advertising, were ephemeral aberrations of an over indulgent consumer society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available