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OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion Hardcover – June 3, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Conley examines the implications of brand-centric marketing in an incisive investigation that illustrates how defenseless consumers are against advertising—on any given day, they are assaulted by 3,000 to 5,000 ads and branding stratagems that subtly dictate every aspect of their lives. Harnessing scientific innovations, branding has become increasing insidious—whether it is the Xbox audio logo or Southwest Airlines' incorporation of the fasten seatbelt sound in their marketing campaign—consumers are being conditioned to think in brands. Beyond ad creep and product placement in entertainment programming, viral and word of mouth (WOM) marketing now make even personal recommendations suspect. According to Conley, 1% of American children and 7% of mothers are compensated for participating in WOM marketing. Even social policy is being corrupted—the author asserts that public branding initiatives such as post-Katrina New Orleans' allocation of public funds toward refurbishing its Mardi Gras City image rather than addressing its safety issues shifts resources away from problem-solving in favor of perception. Conley's perspective on branding's encroachment into social areas is as alarming as it is stimulating. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"There's nothing more powerful in business than a truly original idea or a new product that kicks butt--innovations that speak for themselves. But most companies have neither original ideas nor exciting products--which is why they rely on increasingly desperate marketing tactics to attract attention. Lucas Conley offers a stinging and hilarious take on a world in which brands have gotten out of hand. Business is simply too important for us to put up with the scourge of obsessive branding disorder. This book is the cure for what ails us." -- William Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company Magazine and coauthor of Mavericks at Work

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586484680
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586484682
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,310,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeff Lippincott on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a great book. It was short (only 200 pages), but the type was small and the margins were reasonable. It's an investigative piece. The author is not a marketing expert or a writer trying to promote a marketing firm or whatever. This is a simple book that explores the status of marketing today. It questions whether the US culture has become obsessed with brands rather than quality products and new improved products.

The author says at some point that he was thoroughly amused by the extreme examples of branding he saw. And he believes the world is cheapened when EVERYONE sees it with a marketer's eye. I agree. But this book is good because it points out that branding is used AND ABUSED as a tool to sell goods and services today. A lot more use and a lot less abuse would be good!

This book informs us that successful marketers today create loyal customers who are lazy minded and don't think much before they buy. They just stick to the brand that they have learned to trust and believe in. Once a company creates a successful brand, then they milk it for all it's worth.

This book has an introduction and 9 chapters. Examine the Search Inside material provided by Amazon to see the chapter titles. I thought the book was written well and well outlined. 5 stars!
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Format: Hardcover
Conley has done well in providing overdue business and cultural criticism for our quick fix, near-sighted economy. He cleverly points out that, over the last decade, business has become obsessed with branding their products with imagery, lifestyles, and experiences in an effort to fool consumers into loyalty and irrational buying habits. This obsession has sacrificed a company's attention to innovation and for a product's quality improvement.

To sell your product, it isn't about making something useful or effective anymore. Companies are convinced that the storylines, ideology, and the lifestyle they invent for their product will do the selling. If these methods become ineffective, the company ignores the need to improve the product or create something more advanced as it's far easier to just "rebrand" the lifestyle and the experiences that the product is supposed to bring you. All this is done in an attempt to overwhelm emotion and discourage reason.

Conley has framed a vibrant discourse for the zero-sum game playing out between branding and innovation, emotion versus reason, and the quick fix versus long-term solutions. He thoroughly outlines the branding disorder by providing plenty of convincing examples from the business world of Proctor Gamble to the cityscapes of New Orleans and Cincinnati. A persuasive criticism develops as we find out that it's not just business that loses but the consumer and the public at large as well.

The book encourages further thought and discussion as it branches into complicated issues including the nature of buying and selling, globalization, and our "just saying it makes it true" culture. A must read for the business tycoon or just the economic well-wisher, reading the book produces an immediate 'brand' new awareness of the ads and economy around us.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone who travels often, I require reading material that distracts m from the boredom of the airport drone. This book is poignant, funny and revealing. It held my attention throughout. The author, Lucas Conley has done an excellent job of pointing out how we have deviated from a society of quality seeking individuals to a mass of the product obsessed. It is all around us, on the subways of New York City where everyone is plugged into the latest i-gadget, to the streets of Bangkok where booths are jammed with fake goods. All this is clearly a reflection of our obsession with the appearance and perceived coolness of the brand rather than the caliber of the product itself.
Conley does an excellent job of calling our attention to the error of our ways, and does so in a humourous and captivating manner. I would highly recommend his book to anyone.
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Format: Hardcover
And Lucas Conley is none too happy about it as he warns us in OBD. Less R and D is being spent on improving a product. Why spend the do-re-mi when you can just change the shape,say, of the bottle it comes in, making it cooler but not better.Exploit emotion. The brain thinks 3,000 times faster with an emotional charge than a logical one. Go to an Apple store and you'll see his point. Or quoting Daniel Gilbert, "Experiences don't hang around long enough to disappoint you. What you have left(after a visit) are wonderful memories."(Or look at the testing done showing that people love Pepsi, in a blind taste test but when it is mano a mano(can to can), the visual of the Coke can actually lights up a part of our brains.) But the book really excels when he talks about what sounds like a vast conspiracy. Smells emanating from the shelves of grocery stores? Yes, put there to get you worked up. And smells for kids on put on the shelf consistent with a child's height. And P and G has organizations that give free samples to regular, next door folks in exchange for them hitting you up on the value of pampers or the sparkle to be found only in a certain toothpaste.Like a sci-fi movie. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must drive home in the Ultimate Driving Machine, fire up the Viking Range, get out the Gordon Ramsey cookbook, and get ready for the Fourth.
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