Brands are dead. Advertising no longer works. Weaned on TiVo, the Internet, and other emerging technologies, the short-attention-span generation has become immune to marketing. Consumers are “in control.” Or so we’re told. In Buying In, New York Times Magazine “Consumed” columnist Rob Walker argues that this accepted wisdom misses a much more important and lasting cultural shift. As technology has created avenues for advertising anywhere and everywhere, people are embracing brands more than ever before–creating brands of their own and participating in marketing campaigns for their favorite brands in unprecedented ways. Increasingly, motivated consumers are pitching in to spread the gospel virally, whether by creating Internet video ads for Converse All Stars or becoming word-of-mouth “agents” touting products to friends and family on behalf of huge corporations. In the process, they–we–have begun to funnel cultural, political, and community activities through connections with brands. Walker explores this changing cultural landscape–including a practice he calls “murketing,” blending the terms murky and marketing–by introducing us to the creative marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, and community organizers who have found a way to thrive within it.
Marked by meticulous research and careful conclusions, this superbly readable book confirms New York Times journalist Walker as an expert on consumerism. Disputing claims that today's savvy consumer is immune to marketing, Walker argues that, far from disappearing, marketing has simply become harder to detect--the line between consumer and consumed has blurred as consumers interact more intimately with the brands, embracing them as a part of their own identity and a tool for self-expression. Smart marketers cater to this trend, and the book illustrates tactics such as sponsorships and word-of-mouth campaigns that target the new consumer. Walker wrings every relevant detail from his case studies; his insights into the rise of the Red Bull brand and the repopularization of the working-class Pabst Blue Ribbon beer are particularly illuminating. The result is a thoughtful and unhurried investigation into consumerism that pushes the analysis to the maximum and builds a thesis that refutes the myth of the brand-proof consumer. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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June 02, 2008
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