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Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign Paperback – October 31, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (October 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679740422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679740421
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former New York Times advertising columnist Rothenberg details the brief and disastrous marriage between the struggling Subaru corporation and the hip ad agency it hired to revive its image.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

Rothenberg chronicles the brief, turbulent marriage between a recession-plagued auto company and an aggressively hip ad agency (whose creative director despised cars), capturing both the ad world's tantalizing gossip and the broader significance of its creations. "Simply the best book about advertising I have ever read."--Neil Postman (Technopoly).

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Avi Greengart on August 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Let's get this out in the open now: this is a book about an ad campaign that's now over 10 years old. It wasn't a successful ad campaign that "changed the world" or is remembered all that fondly, so if you're looking for beach reading, this probably isn't it. Also, I found the style somewhat overwraught - the author had a tendency to lose the core narrative in order to provide lengthy asides, mini-history lessons, musings on the tao of advertising, and comprehensive lists when summaries would do (yes, yes, we know, you were THERE. That doesn't mean we need a word for word transcription!).

That said, this is still a brilliant book. By example, it shows what advertising can and cannot do. The real crux of the story is something most books of this ilk gloss over: the internal politics at the agency and struggle between pleasing themselves (and retaining their sanity) and pleasing a client that essentially could not be pleased; the conflict between a manufacturer and its foreign parent; the conflict between a manufacturer and its dealers. All this may be old, but it is still relevant, and quite compelling. It also is underscored throughout by the unresolved conflict between product-based selling (if you have the right product, will it sell itself?) and image-based selling (can advertising drive sales, or just reinforce them?) -- which is as timely as always.

The hardcover version I read desperately needs an updated Epilogue discussing the success of the Paul Hogan Outback campaign in relation to the failure of the SVX. Was it just a better product at a better point in the economic cycle? Did S.O.A. finally create products targeting broader U.S. consumer tastes? Or did the spokesman model work better than W&K's anti-advertising spin?

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By the_global_village_idiot on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
I remember it well: a dramatic image of a sleek black car, against a black background; a gruff world-weary voice dissing conventional auto advertising; an arresting multi-layered scroll of selected text over the fixed image, corresponding directly with the voiceover as the words were read... and remember thinking: "this is an amazing ad. This ad will be incredibly influential."
It was, too, insofar as it almost immediately spawned similar art direction for a host of other products. Only problem was: it didn't sell cars.
"Where the Suckers Moon" explains why. It explains every aspect of the businesses involved -- how car sales are based on image, not mechanics, and and how automobile advertising became the holy grail for agencies.
You learn all about Subaru, and how their corporate structure all but guaranteed failure. You learn about the hubris and arrogance of Weiden and Kennedy, the "hot shop" selected to create the doomed campaign. You learn about how cars have been sold in the past, and gain understanding into how they're sold today.
The lessons pointed out in "Where the Suckers Moon" are relevant for other businesses as well, because the book almost painfully explores the human dynamics of the company that created the product, the company chosen for promoting those sales, and the dramatic and catastrophic effects of a lack of alignment between the two parties. It can -- and does -- happen elsewhere. So don't imagine that you won't get anything out of it simply because you aren't directly dependent on cars or advertising for your bread and butter.
Failings? It's longer than it needs to be, and sometimes veers into philosophical discussions of advertising which clearly reveal the author's own biases.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Nerd from the Back of the Class"'s criticisms of Rothenberg's excellent, meticulously researched "client's eye-view" book seem to be focused on three areas: Subaru isn't "sexy" enough, the book is four years old, and that Rothenberg's cool refuses to crack in order to glamorize the ad game or its participants. In fact, one can infer from "Nerd At the Back of the Class"'s review that Rothenberg's writerly sang-froid is a deterrent from a reader's enjoyment or even basic understanding of the book.
A question: What word in the English language didn't you understand, Nerd? This is as fine a primer on the processes and pressures relating to advertising as I have ever read. And I'm not a Joe Blow--and I doubt that "Nerd At the Back Of The Class" is either-- but, in fact, have made my living as an advertising copywriter for five years now. Rothenberg's cool detachment, his knowledge of his subject (ostensibly modern advertising agencies but, in fact, the history of advertising agencies themselves, and, in fact, Subaru and its parent company in Japan) his patience, his eye for detail, his recording of the filming of the Subaru commercials and the organized chaos that is The Creative Process, his willingness to hang around legendary hothead Joe Pytka for crying out loud--these things make the book what it is: a treatise that modern consumer culture and in fact modern corporate America are neither godlike, infallible or perfect. Rothenberg is Toto, pulling away the curtain to reveal the Wizard for who he is--a little fat guy with a lot of smoke and mirrors at his disposal, a man who loves power and flattery.
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