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The Holiday Makers

Magazines, Advertising, and Mass Tourism in Postwar America

by Richard K. Popp

256 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 17 halftones

ebook available

Media Studies / Journalism

  Hardcover / 9780807142844 / May 2012

Winner of the AJHA Book of the Year Award

In mid-twentieth-century America, mass tourism became emblematic of the expanding horizons associated with an affluent, industrial society. Nowhere was the image of leisurely travel more visible than in the parade of glossy articles and advertisements that beckoned readers from the pages of popular magazines. In Richard K. Popp’s The Holiday Makers, the magazine industry serves as a window into postwar media and consumer society, showing how the dynamics of market research and commercial print culture helped shape ideas about place, mobility, and leisure. 

Magazine publishers saw travel content as a way to connect audiences to a booming ad sector, while middlebrow editors believed sightseeing travel was a means of fostering a classless society at home and harmony abroad. Expanding transportation networks and free time lay at the heart of this idealized vision. Holiday magazine heralded nothing less than the dawn of a new era, calling it “the age of Mobile Man—Man gifted, for the first time in history, with leisure and the means to enjoy distance on a global scale.” For their part, advertisers understood that selling tourism meant turning “dreams into action,” as ad executive David Ogilvy put it. Doing so involved everything from countering ugly stereotypes to tapping into desires for “authentic” places and self-actualization. 
Though tourism was publicly touted in egalitarian terms, publishers and advertisers privately came to see it as an easy way to segment the elite free spenders from the penny-pinching masses. Just as importantly, marketers identified correlations between an interest in travel and other consumer behavior. Ultimately, Popp contends, the selling of tourism in postwar America played an early, integral role in the shift toward lifestyle marketing, an experiential service economy, and contributed to escalating levels of social inequality.

Richard K. Popp is assistant professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Advance Praise for The Holiday Makers

“Read The Holiday Makers on the plane as you travel to your vacation or on the beach once you get there—or even in your study or den. Read it because this is a terrific book that reveals how, beginning in the 1920s, advertising agencies, market researchers, magazine editors, and government agencies helped create the modern American vacation and the narratives that told Americans how to think about them. Initially they fostered a culture of leisure, mobility, and mass consumption. And then Popp intriguingly explores how beginning in the mid-1960s the quest for authenticity and the development of niche marketing began to transform the meanings of American vacations.”—Daniel Horowitz, author of Consuming Pleasures: Intellectuals and Popular Culture in the Postwar World

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