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June 27, 2008

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

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 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 source=BusinessWeek.com)

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.