Americans are living in a world that is littered w

Americans are living in a world that is littered with messages. They are besieged by symbols and images that advocate change or favor political causes or argue pleadingly for Pepsi over Coke.

Commercial ads, carefully crafted to extract every ounce of emotion, suggest you can “Reach out and touch someone” or “Just to it!” While these spots sell a product and relay a message , they are not the only game in town. Issue advocacy, PSAs, are equally potent: Who isn’t attentive to the “This is your brain on drugs” ad or been moved by the campaign against child abuse with “Words hit as hard as a fist?”

Those who help craft these messages are expert image makers, masters in the art of creating and interpreting symbols. The logic of mass media requires complexities simplified, while the messy ambiguity of human experience demands narratives that reflect, distort or even invert reality. Once fashioned, images assume a life and a reality of their own.

In Image Makers, Advertising, Public Relations, and the Ethos of Advocacy, Robert Jackall, a professor of sociology and social thought at Williams College, and Janice M. Hirota, an anthropologist, analyzed the inner workings of modern advocacy—from commercials to public service ads—and its roots in advertising and public relations.

The authors explain why such an occupation exists, even as they chart the rise of two organizations: the Committee on Public Information and the Advertising Council, each born in a time of crisis.

In addition, Image Makers details the legacy of Doyle Dane Bernbach, the ad agency that pioneered the use of key images to penetrate the public consciousness of a skeptical cold war America.

From Image Makers by Robert Jackall and Janice M. Hirota. Copyright © 2000 by Robert Jackall and Janice M. Hirota. Published by arrangement with The University of Chicago Press.