Mike Kueber's Blog

May 27, 2012

Sunday Book Review #77 – Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 3:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

Brandwashed is acknowledged by its author Martin Lindstrom as a follow-up to Vance Packard’s 1957 classic, The Hidden Persuaders, which was “a book that pulled back the curtain on all the psychological tricks and tactics companies and their marketers and advertisers were using to manipulate people’s minds and persuade them to buy.  It was shocking.  It was groundbreaking.  It was controversial.  And it’s nothing compared to what’s going on in the marketing and advertising world today.  Nearly six decades later, businesses, marketers, advertisers, and retailers have gotten far craftier, savvier, and more sinister.”

Unfortunately, Brandwashed does not deliver on its promise.  Perhaps consumers like me have become jaded to marketing techniques, but I read nothing in the book that was shocking or controversial.  I wasn’t shocked to learn that marketers try to encourage purchasing by use of:

  • Fear (exaggerating dangers of SIDS, germs, disease, etc.)
  • Sex (buy the product and be sexually successful)
  • Peer pressure (herd instinct)
  • Nostalgia (buy the product and return to a happier, simpler time)
  • Celebrity (buy the product and be like the celebrity)
  • Snake oil (vaguely promise that non-FDA products will work miracles on you)

The only important post-Packard information consisted of a lengthy concluding chapter that detailed the extensive data-mining that is taking place.  Much of this data is mined from digital coupons, Facebook and Twitter, credit-card purchases, and loyalty-card memberships.   

Perhaps it would have been useful for the author Lindstrom to explain how data-mining or any other of these marketing techniques are a bad thing.        







  1. advertizers play many pricing games too. example:

    when offered 3 options for magazine xyz:
    1.) online only subscription $59
    2.) paper only subscription $125
    3.) paper and online subscription $125
    most people (70%) will pick option 3. Why? Option 2 & 3 seen similar and option 2 is obviously a better deal. It is easy to compare them so pick option 3.

    if however you only offer 2 options:
    1.) online subscription to magzine “x” $59
    2.) paper and online subscription $125
    these are very different options so people use different criteria to pick and there is a near even split.

    you would probably like to read “predictably irrational”

    Comment by Q — May 27, 2012 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

    • I think I’ve read it, but I’m going to take a look.

      Comment by Mike Kueber — May 28, 2012 @ 1:59 am | Reply

  2. by the way, the Economist actually used this…

    Comment by Q — May 27, 2012 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

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