His central idea was to encourage people to be “different” — and what that led to was a new dynamic in society.
If you want to be different you are always running away from the others who are also trying to be different — and thus become like you. So you are continually searching for something newly different, something Hip.
And that required an endless stream of new — different — products. As Thomas Frank puts it very eloquently in The Conquest of Cool:
“Bernbach’s enthusiasm for the idea of ‘difference’ became the magic cultural formula by which the life of consumerism could be extended indefinitely, running forever on the discontent that it itself had produced
Hip was indeed the solution to the problems of the mass society, although not in the way its ideologues had intended”
But one could argue that it is precisely that continual search for difference that has led us into the static world of today. If consumerism continually scours the margins of society for rebellious or contrary notions and then immediately turns them into stuff to sell — it ironically becomes very difficult for new ideas to change society. Instead they tend to end up reinforcing it.