Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Big Brother" is scarier than originally thought

November 2011 Book Review


Brandwashed

Martin Lindstrom

I have to hand it to Martin Lindstrom.  He managed to do what a lot of other marketing authors can’t do; match or exceed the success of the original book that brought them notoriety (Buy-ology in his case).  He has a unique writing style, especially for someone in the field of marketing research.  His style is far from academic (which is a good thing), yet he has clearly done his research.

You’ll laugh at many areas of this book, thinking how stupid consumers tend to be and then realize you are one of them on the very next page.  You’ll also be disturbed at the lengths businesses and marketers will go to sell their products.

Lindstrom pay homage to The Hidden Persuaders at the beginning of this book, but his is far superior.  He did his research and avoids an overly cynical tone.  In fact, he reminds us in the end no matter what companies and marketers try to do to persuade us into buying, if they don’t live up to the promises made, they will ultimately fail and faster than they ever have in the past.

Sadly this book won’t make the same impact The Hidden Persuaders made in the 50’s.  Our culture has become desensitized to the ways of marketers.  After reading this book, it’s clear some of their practices have definitely ventured into the realm of unethical.   

After conducting an experiment in a wealthy neighborhood over the course of a month to see the impact neighbors would have on buying decisions, Lindstrom revealed to everyone that they had a “neighborhood plant” (or family pushing products) and got the following reaction:

“When told…the whole thing was a hoax, and a reality show, no one was angry or upset or cared even slightly that they had been duped.”

Like I said, "Desensitized."

Lindstrom sums it up his own book best by saying:

“marketers and companies use fear, sex, celebrity, New Age promises, insecurity, nostalgia, data mining, and more to prey on our most deeply rooted fears, dreams, and desires in the service of selling us their products.”

This book will likely change at least one, if not more, of your buying decisions after you read it.  And I highly recommend reading it.  (That lip balm mentioned in this book that my wife uses?…no more.)

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars