Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brandwashed

I just finished the audiobook "Brandwashed" by Martin Lindstrom and it was very interesting. The author is an expert in the field of marketing and how to get people to buy your product. In the book he describes and explains the very many methods employed by companies across the world to get their hands on your disposable income. Here's his web site for the book. The amazon page includes favorable reviews (as if they'd post anything but) from famous people, including Dr. Oz and Steven Levitt. Here is a list I copied from that page about the book's contents:

• New findings that reveal how advertisers and marketers intentionally target children at an alarmingly young age – starting when they are still in the womb!
• Shocking results of an fMRI study which uncovered what heterosexual men really think about when they see sexually provocative advertising (hint: it isn’t their girlfriends).
• How marketers and retailers stoke the flames of public panic and capitalize on paranoia over global contagions, extreme weather events, and food contamination scares.
• The first ever neuroscientific evidence proving how addicted we all are to our iPhones and our Blackberry’s (and the shocking reality of cell phone addiction - it can be harder to shake than addictions to drugs and alcohol).
• How companies of all stripes are secretly mining our digital footprints to uncover some of the most intimate details of our private lives, then using that information to target us with ads and offers ‘perfectly tailored’ to our psychological profiles.
• How certain companies, like the maker of one popular lip balm, purposely adjust their formulas in order to make their products chemically addictive.
• What a 3-month long guerilla marketing experiment, conducted specifically for this book, tells us about the most powerful hidden persuader of them all.

The book covers all sorts of aspects, from careful placement of merchandise inside a store, to manipulation of muzak content, to social media avenues like Facebook and Twitter, and more, all carefully designed to get us to buy more, and to buy specific merchandise.

The author carried his research into marketing efficacy to an interesting extreme. After seeing the movie The Joneses, he decided to do exactly that: hire an affluent family in a suburban neighborhood to secretly pitch products and brands to their friends and neighbors. Amazing! He called it The Morgensons. Here's a nice video overview of that experient.

While his results from that experiment were no surprise to me, it was very interesting to hear about how it unfolded. I don't doubt his prediction that the future will see many companies doing exactly this for what they call "guerilla marketing."

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