- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business; 1st edition (March 9, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812930428
- ISBN-13: 978-0812930429
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,577,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Entertainment Economy: How Mega-Media Forces Are Transforming Our Lives Hardcover – March 9, 1999
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Michael J. Wolf says that all businesses--even banks and supermarkets--will increasingly need to be entertaining to thrive. In The Entertainment Economy, Wolf, one of the media industry's top strategists, demonstrates how business is becoming synonymous with entertainment--a trend that is exploding because of the Internet. Although no substitute for quality, a company's "E-Factor" is critical in establishing brand and attracting fickle consumers, he writes. "We have come to expect that we will be entertained all the time," Wolf says. "Products and brands that deliver on this expectation are succeeding. Products that do not will disappear." Entertainment is becoming a big part of some industries you might not think of in this regard. For example, CNBC, a business-news cable station, is a hit because it treats the stock market like entertainment, Wolf writes. Tommy Hilfiger, a clothing retailer, became a "cool brand" by promoting rock stars and other celebrities. No merchant can escape the impact of entertainment--especially on the Internet. An online business must grab people or it will perish. When businesses stake out a position on the Web, they can't just provide online ordering. They must also feature compelling "entertainment content" to win customers. The author, a consultant for Viacom, Newscorp, and other media giants, sprinkles his book with inside stories about Ted Turner, Barry Diller, and Steven Spielberg. This book is for business owners, advertising pros, and people interested in a different take on what's driving the economy. --Dan Ring
"Since I always read the end of a book first, I loved the conclusion of THE ENTERTAINMENT ECONOMY.... Imagination, Michael Wolf contends, is the most valuable asset of all. As proof, he takes you on a pop culture tour, uncovering the lessons of Michael Jordan, Madonna, Viagra, e-commerce and sports utility vehicles, and finally, the mystery of how you get to create the next cultural phenomenon. I laughed, I cried, I took notes."
--Judy McGrath, President of MTV
"As advisor to many of the world's top media moguls, Michael Wolf has th eultimate insider's view of how entertainment is changing every aspect of our lives. In his engrossing book, THE ENTERTAINMENT ECONOMY, he offers insights on the new and traditional media and the decision-makers who will change our economy and culture."
--Bob Pittman, President and Chief Operating Officer of America Online
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I think the fundamental premise is wrong, however. Mr. Wolf feels that entertainment is changing our lives. It looks to me like it is the other way around. The rapid proliferation of technology and irresistible forces in the economy mean that the stress level Is higher than ever, people are trying harder, and need to be entertained in briefer, more satisfying doses. The book makes this point very well, but chooses to draw the opposite conclusion. If families had had nice theme parks to go to before Disneyland, then Disneyland would not have been such a big draw. Broadcasters could have raised prices a lot when they had the big market before cable took off. They were too myopic to do so.
Until the Internet, entertainment was usually reactive rather than proactive. Look how long it took Las Vegas to discover entertainment other than gambling and risque shows. The key point of this book for everyone is that we are in for an unprecedented boom in the value of the talent that provides good entertainment. This is caused by the fragmentation of the audience and channels of distribution. As a result, the good will look much better than ever amidst the increasing masses of the bad. A larger audience will want to spend money on the same things, creating a bonanza. Thinking through how to apply that lesson to your own business is a valuable question. Great entertainment values will be more useful than ever, and bad ones will be less successful than ever. Unless you can be great, don't bother seems to be the message.
Mr. Wolf has probably helped us all to overcome our misconceptions that entertainment is only for those in the "entertainment" business. Entertainment skills, properly-applied, can become a powerful force for any business.
What this book lacks is specific direction on how to apply this insight. My suggestion is that you apply an eight-step process. First, learn to understand by measuring what is entertaining and what is not about your business. Second, then begin to measure how entertainment is effectively helping or not in your key activities. Third, measure the current best practices in this area and estimate where the future best practice will be in 5 years. Fourth, surpass the future best practice by combining existing best practices in new ways that are unlikely to be duplicated by others. Fifth, estimate the ideal best practice (the sort of simultaneous marriage of business and entertainment that transforms both forever) by looking to other areas of human activity where is occurs. A good example may be the effectiveness of sincere efforts to solve terrible problems (like Johnson & Johnson and the tainted Tylenol capsules, and the work site experiences of Habitat for Humanity). Sixth, seek to approach the ideal best practice. Seventh, find the right people, resources, and motivation to get the right results in surpassing the future best practice and approaching the ideal best practice. Eighth, repeat the process as often as possible to build on success and what you have just learned.
From this perspective, almost all the entertainment companies outlined in the book have a lot to learn. They are quick to act on hunches and to spend fortunes on tests and marketing, but seem little interested in understanding the fundamental entertainment desires of those they want to serve. Mr. Wolf celebrates the moguls, but that style of management was long ago surpassed in other industries. Perhaps it should be no surprise that many entertainment companies make smaller finanicial returns compared to companies in other industries. This reminds me of the French wine industry a few years ago. People bought a chateau for prestige, not intending to make money from wine production and marketing. Perhaps moguls are more interested in the attention they get, than in the profits they should create. They may be suffering from "stalled" thinking and will need better thinking habits to overcome these limitations.
Why was it a surprise to Sumner Redstone that Blockbuster Video was not a core enterprise for Viacom's future? He is considered to be an extremely intelligent and able executive who was playing with lots of his own money. My conclusion is that he needed a better management process to avoid mistakes like this one.
Mr. Wolf should spend more time thinking about management processes.
If you want a breezy read about the entertainment industry, do buy and read this book. If you want something with more guidance for your business, you will need to supplement this book with others. The Customer-Driven Company is a good example.
Unless you currently think about entertainment as it might relate to your business now, this book will definitely advance your thinking about what the fundamental trends have been and what that could mean for the future of your business.
Wolf observes that "Within its home turf....entertainment is in many parts of the world the fastest-growing sector of the economy. This is as true of developing countries as it is of mature ones. But of even wider impact is the way entertainment content has become a key differentiator in virtually every aspect of the broader consumer economy." Moreover, "...where America's entertainment economy goes, the rest of the world is not far behind." Although he does not state it explicitly, Wolf views "entertainment" from two quite separate perspectives: entertainment as a commodity (films, videos, radio and television, concerts, athletic events, etc.) and entertainment as a strategy (eg to create a sense of being "entertained"). As Wolf explains, not all commodities are inherently entertaining but it is possible to nourish the appeal of virtually all commodities by use of appropriate entertainment principles.
In this respect, Wolf seems to agree with Schmitt & Simonson, co-authors of Marketing Aesthetics. Consider Williams-Sonoma which attracts customers to its upscale stores with the aromas of fresh-baked bread and fresh-brewed coffee, produced on-site by appliances it sells. Schmitt & Simonson assert that marketing is most effective when it appeals to most (if not all) of the five senses. Wolf would no doubt confirm that the nature and extent of that appeal will usually determine the nature and extent of a consumer's sense of being "entertained."
Every retail merchandiser should ask, "Who buys what we sell? Which images will be most appealing? Window displays, posters, counter-top promotions? Which aromas will be most appealing? Gourmet coffee, popcorn, chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Which sounds will be most appealing? Bach, Hole, Dwight Yoakam, Celine Dion?"
Wolf characterizes Ted Turner, Michael Eisner, Sumner Redstone, and Rupert Murdoch as "the conquistadors of modern business." Why? Because they and their associates understand so well that entertainment (both as a commodity and as an influence) has an almost unlimited global audience. To Wolf's credit, everything he says is directly relevant to almost any organization, regardless of size of nature. If an organization does not understand The Entertainment Economy, it probably doesn't have much of a chance of survival. Those interested in this book are urged to consider, also, The Experience Economy and Experiential Marketing.