A wise and approachable look at the fundamentals of effective marketing.

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OCCASIONAL THOUGHTS ON MARKETING AND MEDIA

A writer offers a series of reflections on the nature of the marketing world—and its fate in the social media era.

“Current marketing literature and the discussions on marketing forums show a profession in search of a role and meaning,” Rao writes in this look at the trials of marketing in the internet age. He at one point quotes an old industry pro’s familiar quip: “Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” Although the author maintains just this kind of upbeat, happy tone throughout his book, the actual tidings he has to convey can at times be dark and even scolding. His discussion of the marketing discipline extends to the heyday of the pre-internet days, when the advertising budget would often be the single largest line item for a business after the cost of raw materials, the days when “the advertising agency had a seat at the client’s top table, because top management looked to it for strategic counsel.” These relationships, he stresses, were based above all on trust between the business and the marketing firm, which in turn translated to consumer confidence in the brand being advertised. The trouble, he warns in his often insightful book, starts when this trust is taken lightly: “It’s not what you say that counts; it’s what the consumer gets out of it.” This kind of fundamental is often overlooked in the modern era, Rao writes, when the thinking is too often “How should we use digital?” instead of “How should we better engage with our customers?” The author provides plenty of intriguing ruminations based on his expertise. He has spent more than 40 years “in two connected but distinct spaces: advertising, with a focus on brands and brand strategy; and the media, in which I have also had a great deal of involvement in policy and regulatory issues.” The work’s clear, cheerful, and astute narrative aims to remind readers that some pieces of marketing wisdom never go out of date: “Marketers and their cohorts have discovered afresh the merits of mass media, and media axioms have become the new media wisdom.”

A wise and approachable look at the fundamentals of effective marketing.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5437-0584-3

Page Count: 270

Publisher: PartridgeIndia

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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