The coauthor of the no-more-business-as-usual blockbuster The Cluetrain Manifesto
--which basically told Net-age marketers to stop talking at
their markets and start conversing with
them--follows up with a book that's more a highly entertaining, nimbly erudite screed against our current mass-market, mass-media culture than it is a recipe book for e-commerce marketing success in the post-cyberboom era. Writing in a paler imitation of the profanely irreverent, freely associative "gonzo" journalism style pioneered by his obvious idol Hunter S. Thompson, Locke starts with the by-now-familiar idea that old-style mass-marketing "broadcast" advertising just won't work on the Web. Indeed, he says, conventional print-ad tactics as embodied online by banners and pop-ups might actually generate more ill will than sales, and that's why companies must use the Web to somehow enjoin their products and services to the quirky niche interests of the gazillion individual cybercommunities (or "micromarkets") whose greatest advantage for marketers is how freely and speedily their members talk among themselves, touting a brand when and if it's truly deserved.
Useful examples of such enjoinment don't appear until a slim, penultimate chapter, and they are mostly theoretical in nature, e.g., what if Ford, after giving its employees worldwide free home computers and Net access (which it did), got all of them who were into organic gardening to infiltrate organic-gardening Web communities to push (via the subtle art of persuasion, one supposes) the niftiness of Ford pickups for organic gardeners? Truth be told, Locke seems more like a social critic or humanist at heart than a marketing consultant, and his essential disdain for corporations (which are anti-human, he declares, despite all their philanthropic tootle) leaves the reader wondering whether he really wants e-commerce to effectively pervade the Web's truly democratic, populist microcommunities for its own purposes. As his wonderfully cranky cult Web zine, Entropy Gradient Reversals, and his alter ego therein, RageBoy, have proven, the man's a smart, witty, broadly read cyberpundit. In Gonzo Marketing, he tweaks everyone from Disney, Time Warner AOL, and IBM to fellow biz-book writers like Seth Godin (Permission Marketing), and if you read it first for its own eclectic, acerbic delights and second for a postboom e-marketing primer, you'll be rightly pleased. --Timothy Murphy
From Publishers Weekly
This latest offering from the coauthor of last year's The Cluetrain Manifesto puts a new spin on the age-old approach to marketing, which says businesses need to establish common ground with potential customers before they begin to try to sell anything. "At its heart, gonzo is animated by an attitude of deeply principled anti-professionalism in the best sense," says Locke, who purports to offer a new business template and a futuristic view of the marketplace. Although this work suffers from frequent dead-end tangents, hopeless self-indulgence and endless references to Locke's last book and his former coauthors, it does have a few shining moments. His theories are intriguing; in Locke's world, for example, employees of Ford Motor Co. who like organic gardening would be given space on the Ford Web site to communicate with other organic gardeners, thus reaching people who eventually could become Ford's customers, thanks to their online relationship with the gardening Ford employee. To his credit, Locke's nine maxims ("best practices usually aren't"; "storytelling is the path" to marketing success, etc.) do make sense, and his avoidance of Internet advertising and embrace of community involvement are refreshing. (Nov.)Forecast: Perseus will have to do a little gonzo marketing of its own to help this title break out of the saturated new business category.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.