Othmer’s engaging dissection of advertising gives consumers valuable insight into how companies manipulate messages to...

ADLAND

SEARCHING FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE ON A BRANDED PLANET

A former ad man delves into his 20 years in the slogan trenches, musing on how advertising influences us and how the Internet is revamping it.

At some point, Othmer (The Futurist, 2006) probably made you buy something: a phone service, some cat litter, possibly fried chicken. To prompt that purchase, he might have spent weeks staging a pitch disguised as an Off-Broadway show, or days contemplating the difference between crispy and crunchy, or hours on a conference call discussing how kitty litter can make your cat’s poop shrink. In those moments, Othmer felt his soul was being corrupted. At other times he caught creative highs from being huddled in a meeting room thinking up ideas. Both experiences gave Othmer an understanding of advertising—the process, the positioning, the ultimate point of it all—that we consumers could never acquire on our own. His goal is to explain the business, from its conception in the focus-group meetings of a Chicago research institution to its dumbing-down at the hands of franchisees desiring a KFC commercial that borders on food porn. Othmer uses his often hilarious experiences to discuss the stress-fueled environment advertising springs from, how its message is targeted to consumers and how branding can actually be a good thing—even now, as traditional branding is collapsing. That last fact leads the author on a quest to understand advertising’s future, particularly online, and he interviews the heads of some of the biggest online marketing shops. To be a successful ad exec, he concludes, you have to understand new media and realize it is a galaxy of endless possibility that allows brands to interact and have a conversation with consumers—something a 30-second Super Bowl ad could never do.

Othmer’s engaging dissection of advertising gives consumers valuable insight into how companies manipulate messages to convince us to give them our money.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-52496-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more