The language of the walls: putting promotional saturation in historical context

McFall, Liz (2004). The language of the walls: putting promotional saturation in historical context. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 7(2) pp. 107–128.



The view that we live in an age where commercial promotion pervades everyday life to an unprecedented extent is so widely accepted that there have been few attempts to test it empirically. This paper makes an attempt to rectify this by looking closely at ideas and evidence concerning escalating commercial promotion. This involves three main tasks. First, some of the arguments that have been made about promotion are briefly reviewed to help establish the extent to which judgements about its contemporary significance are "dehistoricised". Second, consideration is given to the ambiguous status of historical evidence in questioning critical thought. History, it is argued cannot offer a straight, objective means of comparison but it can offer an insight into the contingency of pervasiveness upon the available media, techniques and technologies of promotion. Third, a glimpse into how these media, techniques and technologies have historically been marshalled to ensure commercial saturation is provided through evidence of the use of promotion in coffeehouses, outdoor environments and corporate culture.

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