June 27, 2008

Staff Picks: Consumer or Consumed? BusinessWeek reviews two books about brands

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:27 PM – Filed under: Marketing & Sales

Yesterday Dylan did a nice job of summing up the latest reviews and discussions about business books in business magazines. Sometimes it's hard for us to keep up with everything, so here's one from a few weeks ago.
In the June 19 issue of BusinessWeek, writer Susan Berfield reviewed two books that "explore the question of whether brands control us, or vice versa": Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker, and Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion by Lucas Conley. (Image

Here's a snippet from the article:
My girl's request [for a Go-Gurt in her lunch]--fleeting, trivial, and unrepeated--nonetheless says something profound about our high-impact, omni-consuming culture. But what? Is she--are we all--just easy marks? Or is there a more complex dynamic between the marketer and the mark? Rob Walker, the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, argues for the latter view. Walker, who writes the "Consumed" column in The New York Times Magazine, offers a sophisticated and sometimes lighthearted take on how consumers interact with brands, defining and controlling them as companies struggle to keep up. By contrast, Lucas Conley, a contributing writer for Fast Company, takes a grimmer view. His book, Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and The Business of Illusion, is a bleak assessment of how defenseless we are against ad creep, as he calls it.

Check out the BusinessWeek article to see which perspective Berfield tends to agree with more.

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.