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Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing Hardcover – February 7, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is not your ordinary marketing manual. With casual humor and a laid-back tone, Wipperfürth, a marketer who helps brands like Dr. Martens and Napster "appear like serendipitous accidents," advocates the "brand hijack," a process of allowing customers to shape brand meaning and drive a brand's evolution. Using case studies of products that were embraced by young consumers precisely because they lacked traditional, excessive ad campaigns, like Pabst Blue Ribbon and In-N-Out Burger, Wipperfürth shows that seemingly effortless branding is actually sustained by "no-marketing" techniques. Some of these tactics include marketing first to alternative subcultures and building a brand "folklore" with "customs, rituals, vocabulary...and experiences," much in the way that he claims "Starbucks created coffee culture." The book designates three types of brand hijack: the Discovery, which allows people to feel "in on a secret" (à la Palm); the Commentary, by which a brand like Dr. Martens is associated with a subversive social statement; and the Mission, which "declares a worldview oppositional to a 'Big Brother' enemy" (à la Apple). While the book speaks specifically to marketers, it offers a glimpse into America's consumer- and ad-driven culture, and even lay readers will be fascinated to learn about the sly techniques being utilized on them. That pair of expensive pre-ripped jeans will never look the same.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In an age of marketing saturation, consumers are pleading with advertisers to "tone down the relentless yammering; you're talking too loud for us to listen." As backlash to constant media hype, products sometimes become "hot" when consumers ignore corporate America's overt advances and embrace independent products such as Doc Martens, Red Bull, Napster, and Starbucks, creating a cult following and effectively hijacking the brand as their own. Even Pabst Blue Ribbon beer has made a comeback recently precisely because it is the antithesis of a microbrew. So how do you market to an audience that rejects marketing? Wipperfurth explains how to walk this thin line by "seeding" the right audience to create a buzz and patient development of brand recognition. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of this will work, but Wipperfurth has the expertise to give you an advantage over the big guys. He has been called "a marketing subversive . . . The guy who will make your brands cool" by Adweek and is a partner at marketing boutique Plan B in San Francisco. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (February 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840787
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,504,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Bosiljevac on February 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of this book, just by pure chance. Wipperfurth saw my review of Malcolm Gladwell's THE TIPPING POINT and emailed me to see if I'd be interested. Guess some good things do come of writing all these reviews.

More focused on brands than Gladwell's book, which was about broader social epidemics, BRAND HIJACK is a fascinating book. The term "brand hijack" refers to a group of consumers taking your brand and giving it an identity you as a marketer were not counting on. Like when punk culture re-appropriated Dr. Marten's, originally a worker's boot, into footwear that makes a political statement. While traditional marketing wisdom would say that this is a bad thing, that the last thing a marketer wants to do is lose control of their brand's meaning, Wipperfurth proposes that in some cases it can be a good thing, even something to encourage.

Brand Hijack is choc full of case studies, both successful and unsuccessful. Dr. Marten's, Red Bull, Napster, Ipod, Southwest Airlines. Great brands. It presents examples of how a brand should and should not treat its customers if it's looking for true, long-term loyalty. And it argues that one powerful method to create the powerful bonds that lead to such loyalty is through allowing and encouraging your brand to be hijacked. Hijacking of brands is a risky, unpredictable, and potentially long process that's a far cry from the traditional marketing formula, but if anyone doubts its potential, consider this: According to Landor's 2001 survey of global image power, Napster had a global rank near that of Sony's. In one year of its existence, with a marketing budget of under $1 million (compared to Sony's $1 billion+ lifetime budget). Something to make one take notice.
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Format: Hardcover
Brand Hijack is in turns amongst the most boring and the most interesting of marketing paperbacks out there. Wipperfurth is clearly fed up with conventional marketing and its desire to "control" the identity of a brand and in turn, the experience of the consumer. One can not blame him for it - the strength of this book lies in making a strong case for brands to think of consumer interactions as dialogues. Focus groups exchanged for true interaction with actual consumers. Indeed what would have been impossible 20 years ago, is very possible today. Today, one can have communities that support and work with certain brands, and those communities can inspire brand loyalty of the kind that money and ads can not buy. Point taken.

The problem lies with Wipperfurth undying love for bullet pointing the world. I have rarely seen some one bullet point quite as much. A class in journalism or comparitive literature is called for. Simple arguments tediously wind into multiple segments and points and tables.

Not only are these tables boring and difficult to even glance through, but they are entirely pointless and inaccurate. There are no ten ways to catch a butterfly. No ten ways to read a newspaper. And certainly no ten ways to manage a brand hijack.

Rather than making some interesting points and arguments, demonstrating the importance of two way communication, exploiting the richness of modern media, and then talking through what makes the process so rich, the author gets lost in this mindless description of every phase and every twist and every turn. Very very boring and pointless.

But, the point is well taken. Brand managers can now learn a lot more about their brands, and positioning their brands, than 2 decades ago.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I too read a lot of business books...especially those on marketing. As a pretty small book and magazine publisher (ie old media), I have to be 3 steps ahead when it comes to things. I found myself nodding in agreement with every page I turned.

I recommend reading this book along with Seth Godin's Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside.

The great thing about having a very small budget for marketing is that it forces you to think and be highly creative. Sure, big companies will always have more money....but they may not be able to have more creativity or freedom.

And that's why this book is so useful. It is a blueprint for change that small companies can really embrace...if they choose to.
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Format: Hardcover
The below reviews do a good job describing this marketing book on how consumers can effectively take over your product, utilize it in a new and unexpected way, and can unintentionally build a cult following in the process.

The author uses corporate examples such as Apple, IKEA, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Linux, Birkenstocks, Starbuck's, the movie Blair Witch Project, the energy drink Red Bull, the Barbie doll, In-N-Out Burger, SMS (the program used for cell phone texting), Napster, the MINI Cooper, Palm, Hotmail, The Body Shop, Abercrombie & Fitch, the TV show The Apprentice, Doc Martens Footwear, along with many others
5 star reviews by:
Rolf Dobelli (September 27, 2005)
Daniel L. Gilliland (September 25, 2008)

3 star review by:
Newton Ooion (April 30, 2012)--the first paragraph paints an accurate picture of the book.

With over 60 concepts I wrote down to be used for this review, I will provide a few here:

How a brand hijack occurs: "Market participation arises when a brand hands over an innovation to consumers and allows potential converts to help shape the message. A brand hijack relies on the power of the idea, the chosen early peer-to-peer networks, and the tactics used to expose the idea to a larger audience."

The advantage of hijacked brands: "...lies in their complexity. Embrace it. This empowers consumers to interpret the brand to fit their needs, so that they don't feel like they're being forced to swallow the company line."

The 3 ways to create passion amongst consumer groups:
"1)The Discovery:
Engages by either delighting or by being let in on a secret. Generally driven by a brand owner's vision for market innovation.
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