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

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

more