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June 22, 2004

News & Opinion: Lovemarks is a Love Affair

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:47 PM – Filed under: Marketing & Sales

The second to last place I'd ever what to work is an advertising agency. But Kevin Roberts, author of Lovemarks, is no typical ad agency CEO.
"I've been in some boardrooms where there was a definite, audible gulp when I put the words 'love' and 'business' together", says Kevin Roberts (via Fast Company article, "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Plot the Graph").
If you can ignore the look of the fire-engine red book full of glossy thick pages bursting with color and clean design from...where else?...Italy (I can't imagine coming up with a dog-ear score) and focus on the content while you flip through the book (my initial perusal method) I'd say my review would look startling similar to a David Hornik review:
blah blah commodity blah blah change blah blah attention is currency blab blah respect blah integrity blah blah mystery blah blah story blah myth blah blah sensuality blah blah intimacy blah blahtrust blah blah blah listening to customer blah blah blah inspiration blah blah loyalty beyond reason blah blah passion blah blah blah tap into dreams blah blah embrace emotion blah blah emotional connection blah blah blah Nothing is Impossible
Well isn't everyone already saying advertising is dead, brands are dead, emotion is where it's at, blah blah blah already?
The second initial reaction I had to the book was depression. Yet another book that preaches to the choir (that is, at the Church of the Customer). No one that really needs to read this will touch it with a ten-foot pole, I mused. If the Economist labels 'soft' a work by an author that studied "great military theorists, like Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and Jomini" and countless other "conventional battles and guerrilla warfare" then what hope is there for a bright red art book with (gulp) Love scrawled across it?
The third reaction I had was uh, this is a Saatchi and Saatchi high-gloss marketing brochure.
The fourth reaction was the most depressing of all. Is there anything marketers will not stoop to? Now they are appropriating Love itself - the most selfless (when it's authentic) force in the universe to manipulate customers. Even if Roberts means well (and I've read countless speech transcripts, interviews, website material) other people will twist the message around to line their pocketbooks.
So although I was waiting for months for this book to come out, I was initially disheartened. But (ok, I committed to do this review) I eventually devoted a quiet two-day weekend to it (ha, I thought I could whip it out in one sitting) and there is something subtle and quite different about this book. If read slowly that is. (I think the design and format tempts you into flipping rather than immersing).
Ah ha...he gets it.
Part 2 continues tomorrow...

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.