Customer Review

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Enough is enough.", September 21, 2011
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Hardcover)
Martin Lindstrom's "Brandwashed" is a horror story straight out of Stephen King. Unfortunately, since this is a work of non-fiction, the zombies may really be taking over our minds. Lindstrom, one the world's most successful marketers, knows whereof he speaks, since for years he has made his living doing the very things he decries. The author is like a magician who reveals the secrets behind his most dazzling illusions. He gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the increasingly sophisticated world of advertising and "data mining," the insidious practice of "tracking and analyzing consumer behavior" that has become so common, thanks to "loyalty cards," digital coupons, credit cards, Facebook, Twitter accounts, and other windows into our habits and personal tastes. Advances in the fields of "consumer behavior, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience" have enabled marketers to "uncover our deepest subconscious fears, dreams, vulnerabilities, and desires." In every imaginable way, "retailers have gotten far craftier, savvier, and more sinister."

Of course, there are those who love to shop 'till they drop; cannot wait to show off their brand name pocketbooks, watches, and clothing to their friends and neighbors; and are so addicted to social networking that they heedlessly broadcast highly personal information to the world. However, if you are a bit paranoid about your privacy and dislike being manipulated into spending dollars you cannot afford for goods and services that you do not need, you may want to know more about the ways in which businesses shrewdly push our buttons. The practices described in "Brandwashed" come across as particularly unnerving when toddlers, tweens, and teenagers (groups that are highly susceptible to the power of persuasion and peer pressure) are the target audiences.

What are a few of the methods that advertisers use to pry our hard-earned cash out of our wallets? Corporations hire experts to employ scare tactics, nostalgia, celebrity and "expert" endorsements, and absurd and unrealistic promises based on "preposterously unsubstantiated claims" to persuade us to spend and spend. "Brandwashed" is a timely wake-up call to parents, who should more closely monitor what their kids watch, play, and consume; to technology users of all ages, who should be more cautious about what information they send into cyberspace; and to people on a tight budget who cannot afford to make impulsive purchasing decisions.

Forewarned is forearmed. Perhaps if we are more conscious of the many ways in which we are gulled into buying that overhyped face cream, nutritional supplement, or fragrance, we might think twice before shelling out big bucks for a pricey item that may be no better than its cheaper, but less well-known, counterpart. "Brandwashed" is well-organized, clearly written, detailed, and filled with entertaining and informative anecdotes. Lindstrom's call to action should make us more vigilant, putting us on notice that we need to protect our kids and ourselves from some very smart, sneaky, and amoral individuals who are out to make a buck, no matter what it takes.
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