Paul Rand “Good Design Is Good Will” 1987 from  Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field page 64-69 and Steven Heller Underground Mainstream” in Design Observer 2008.


Here are the questions to which you should respond in your reading response:

  • Is the concept of mainstream vs. underground relevant in advertising of 1950’s / 1960’s and is it relevant today?
  • What is “culture jamming”?
  • Provide a visual example and description of early avant-garde culture jamming.
  • Provide a visual example and description of culture jamming today.


The concept of mainstream vs. underground was relevant in 1950’s/1960’s because psychedelic art once seen as a threat to mainstream became popular through entrepreneurs and marketers. Underground bands were advertised and packaged these bands using the very codes that signaled “alternative” to the growing youth market. Mainstream v.s culture also influenced the kids who grew up during that time who grew up to create iconic designs for the culture. The concept is still relevant today because mainstream designers of advertising have folded the underground into mainstream and called it cool. They have embraced the times and have acknowledged that it will always be an onward battle, if you can’t beat them, join them.  

Culture jamming is a protest of social movements and issues, to disturb media advertising. Appropriated from mainstream it took fundamental forms from commercial advertising and made art itself into advertising. Culture jamming exploited and criticized corporate companies making society aware of issues within the brand that would harmfully affect the consumer. 

Here is an example of culture jamming from 1965 published by Mad Magazine.  The ad reinforces government reports on smoking and cancer, not being recognized by the company. It exploits the cigarette company and its goal to keep consumers and their money, by any means necessary. Even if that means withholding information that lessens the integrity of the brand.

MAD Editor Albert B. Feldstein, R.I.P. | Mad Magazine

Here is an example of culture jamming from today. The Mcdonalds is a large international fast-food franchise restaurant that where people go to grab a quick bite. The Mcdonald’s ad points out its unhealthy menu and the facts on how the food affects the body. 


Reference Image: Mad Magazine

Idea:  Rebellion of any kind breeds followers, and many followers become a demographic.

Idea: He alleged that frequent cosmetic changes to everything from a soap package to a radio-receiver cabinet would encourage consumers to discard the old and purchase the new

Definitions: Insurgent, Usurped