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5.0 out of 5 stars Brimming with information
Small typeface, but jam packed with information about the subtle psychology involved in selling a brand to the gullible public!
Published 3 months ago by Elle

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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Meretricious and sensationalist nonsense. But I could be wrong
I don't normally give books bad reviews. This is because I only have time to read books about subjects that interest me, and there is nearly always something worth praising in the efforts of an author who has gone to the trouble of writing a book about a shared interest. A book has to be pretty awful before one feels the need to say, `This is awful; don't buy this...
Published on 2 April 2012 by Jonathan Gifford


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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Meretricious and sensationalist nonsense. But I could be wrong, 2 April 2012
By 
Jonathan Gifford (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
I don't normally give books bad reviews. This is because I only have time to read books about subjects that interest me, and there is nearly always something worth praising in the efforts of an author who has gone to the trouble of writing a book about a shared interest. A book has to be pretty awful before one feels the need to say, `This is awful; don't buy this book.'

I feel the need to say, `This is awful, don't buy this book.'

The trouble is, this book is so awful that I couldn't bring myself to finish reading it - so there may be many brilliant aperçus lying in wait for the seeker of wisdom after page 11 (which is where I lost the will to live, or at least the will to read further) but I wouldn't bet £14.99 on it, if I were you (as I did, in WH Smiths in Marylebone Station, thinking that the book might offer me some interesting thoughts about marketing. It didn't.)To be honest, I struggled to get to page 11. I nearly gave up before I got to the end of the Introduction. Let me tell you why.

In the Introduction, Martin Lindstrom (`among the globe's foremost marketers') tries to persuade us that he went on a `brand detox' for one year. For a whole twelve months, he tried not to buy any new brands. Did you really, Martin? Are you sure that you're not just saying that to try to inject a little interest into the otherwise banal introduction to your book? Are you sure that you're not trying to promote the carefully cultivated image of yourself as a wild and wacky (yet oh so percipient)thinker-outside-more-boxes-than-you-would-find-outside-the-back-of-a-shoe-store? Let's see.

Martin can no longer buy brands of breakfast cereal and stuff, so he starts to eat an apple for breakfast. OK. Let's assume that he buys his apples loose from a greengrocer. But does he drink tea or coffee? If so, does he buy his tea loose from a tea chest in his local greengrocers, take it home in a paper bag and empty it into a tea caddy? Does he buy his coffee beans the same way? Does he get his milk from a churn at the end of a farmer's lane? Does he bake his own bread? If so, does he get his yeast in a bowl from a baker?

Martin, sadly, can't buy a round of drinks or gift for a friend because of his brand detox. He fears that `my friends secretly thought I was being tight-fisted, that my brand detox was just an excuse to be cheap.' Nah - no real friend would think that, Martin. But why not give everyone apples as a birthday present? Or the lovely (but unpasteurised) milk from that churn at the end of your farmer's lane? Or paper bags of tea from the greengrocer?On the matter of standing a round at the pub, why not give the money to somebody else in the group and ask them to buy a round of drinks without telling you what brand they chose? At least you might get to keep a few of your presumably scarce friends.

This oh-so-amusing conceit of Lindstrom's is simply stark nonsense. What, exactly, did the Lindstrom family eat for this year? What did he wash himself with? What, if you'll forgive me, did he wipe his bottom with? (And, in case you're wondering, he wasn't allowed to buy newspapers either.) And on board an aeroplane (Lindstrom is very keen to let us know that he is a jet-setting consultant who lives on planes and in hotel rooms) he cannot order a brand by name. This little subterfuge apparently gets round the whole 'brand detox' rigmarole: he has to ask for `a cola' (even presumably, if he is flying with Virgin Airlines and he can be absolutely certain what brand of cola they will serve him).

Btu then, I found myself thinking: which airline is Lindstrom flying with? And what hotel is he staying at? Aren't those brand choices? Lindstrom point is that it is virtually impossible to escape from `brands' in the modern world. He is, in fact, right about this, but his silly `brand detox' nonsense strongly suggests that he doesn't actually understand what he thinks he is enlightening us about.

Despite these, uh, reservations, I was prepared to allow Lindstrom his detox nonsense as a dramatic conceit that was trying to make a serious point, until I got to the passage where he explained how he had fallen off his brand detox wagon. After yet another exhausting flight around the world delivering high-powered marketing seminars (or whatever), Lindstrom finds himself without a clean shirt for the next day's presentation. He's only got the sweaty old black T-shirt that he has travelled in. Now, call me old fashioned, but I wouldn't pay an especially high consultancy fee to an allegedly world-class marketer who can't plan ahead sufficiently to pack a clean shirt for the presentation that I have paid him handsomely for. But that is not the point. Having only the one sweaty black T-shirt that is currently clinging to his back, Lindstrom is forced to buy a new, white T-shirt from a local store (Lindstrom finds himself on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus). This T-shirt bears the slogan `I Love Cyprus.' Lindstrom has, he wails, broken his brand detox, `and all for a dreadful T-shirt too'.

My point is this: a T-shirt bought in Cyprus bearing the slogan `I Love Cyprus' (or even `My parents went to Cyprus and all they bought me was this lousy T-shirt') is NOT A BRAND. This is about as far from a brand as it is possible to get. What are the brand values of this T-shirt? If you fell in love with any of its qualities, how would you buy another one and still be certain that it had the same qualities? An `I Love Cyprus' T-shirt is about as undifferentiated as coffee beans or pork bellies. The many millions of `I love Cyprus T-shirts' in the world will be made to different standards and from different materials. The particular `I Love Cyprus T-shirt' that Lindstrom happened to buy does not offer him any brand qualities that would enable him to repeat that experience, even if he wanted to. "I want an `I Love Cyprus' T-shirt" he would be reduced to gibbering. "No - not that one, one like the one I bought in that store in Cyprus. It was a nice one. It had certain indefinable brand qualities that I am struggling to put into words, but I would happily pay you more if you could offer me an identical T-shirt experience."

I'm aware that I am starting to foam at the mouth, but having just spent £14.99 on a book by `a marketing veteran who lists McDonald's, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft among his former clients' and having discovered that this veteran has no idea what a brand even IS . . . well, I was a little disappointed. (And whatever you're paying him, Procter & Gamble, Microsoft etc . . . )

I did try to read the first chapter, really I did, but then I came to another carpet-chewing moment. Lindstrom is trying to persuade us that advertisers (wicked, sinister, manipulative etc etc) are trying to influence babies in the womb. Well, I can put up with that as a bit of sensationalism if Lindstrom has any kind of solid point to make. But then we are offered the opinions (I use the word lightly) of Minna Huotilainen, research fellow at the University of Helsinki. You must have heard of her. No, me neither. She talks about the effect of music on unborn babies in their mothers' womb. `When the mother frequently listens to music, the fetus will learn to recognize and prefer that same music compared to other music.' I don't mind that; that might well be true. But sadly, the world-famous Ms Huotilainen goes on to say this: `The fetus will build the same musical taste with his/her mother automatically, since all of the hormones of the mother are shared by the fetus.'

So now hormones are meant to be carrying sound memories from mother to child? Forgive me, but at this point it seemed pointless to read further. This book, I would hesitantly suggest, appears to be meretricious nonsense that will use any dubiously-sourced pseudo-science to advance its shallow, sensationalist and self-promoting cause. But I could be wrong.

One last thing. Lindstrom (embarrassingly) tells us that he always wears black (hence the horror of being forced to end his brand detox by buying a non-branded, white `I Love Cyprus' T-Shirt) because (and this is the cringe-worthy bit)`James Bond always wore black'. Now, this is not only one of the saddest statements I have ever read by a best-selling author, but it is also false. Even a cursory search on the web will show that James Bond's `trademark' outfit was a dark blue (not black) suit. And even if all you know about James Bond has been learned from the world-famous films, you would be hard-pressed to miss the fact the Roger Moore incarnation of Bond spent a lot of his time on screen dressed in a ludicrous (but not black) Safari suit. Do your research, Lindstrom! I think that you may be thinking of the man in the Milk Tray TV advertisements. And, since you seem to be a bit confused about the issue, Cadbury's `Milk Tray' really IS a brand, but any old `I Love Cyprus' T-shirt is not.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brimming with information, 7 April 2014
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This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
Small typeface, but jam packed with information about the subtle psychology involved in selling a brand to the gullible public!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Every Marketer Should Read This, 28 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
Martin Lindstrom has revolutionised the way in which we think about consumer behaviour and market research. This book is a great read and is fascinating to learn how we have become so influenced by brands.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't be manipulated reading this book, 27 Feb 2012
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
I only needed to read the first free chapter (about manipulation in the womb), to know this is more of the same light weight sensationalism and self promotion that Lindstrom is good at. Anecdote after anecdote, smattered with conversations with research companies and references to Denmark and personal experiences, its was really boring. So I'm glad Amazon do the view inside to know prior that its more of the same.

In previous books Lindstrom also uses marketing and research companies, marketing "experts" to give credibility endorsements to his own writing...itself a good marketing trick. In this case the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK even sent me an email promoting/endorsing his book (and buy it from their website)

Companies do all kinds of things to make you want to buy there products (using sex, greed, envy, fear etc)...err that is what the job of marketing is for, isn't it?

So, whilst Lindstrom may criticize brands for manipulating us, as he builds his own Lindstrom brand, he is happy to use the same marketing tricks to manipulate YOUR mind to buy his book. Very clever...but could be hypocritical.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the most effective marketers know about consumers, how they know it, and why consumers should be concerned, 28 Sep 2011
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Others have shared their opinions of this book and their opinions certainly cover a wide spectrum. Some praise or criticize Martin Lindstrom's writing stile, others praise or criticize his premises and conclusions, and still other praise or criticize both. I'm going to pass on the writing style and focus on what I consider to be among his most important points.

Marketers face much greater challenges today than ever before in terms of attracting and then sustaining the attention of consumers who find themselves buried by "blizzards" of information conveyed by thousands of daily messages that create "clutter." Lindstrom explains how marketers are responding to those challenges.

First, they create or increase demand for what they offer with implicit rather than explicit tactics. Vance Packard wrote about "the hidden persuaders" in a book bearing that title, first published in 1957. In Brandwashed, Lindstrom examines what could be characterized as "the stealth persuaders." For example, we learn that shoppers in American department stores who are exposed to Muzak with a slow tempo shop 18% longer and purchase 17% more than do those who shop in silence. However, in fast food restaurants, Muzak with much faster beats is played "to increase the rate at which a person chews."

Marketers are also making highly effective use of the latest technologies, notably functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to identify what consumers really want even if they don't as yet know it. Electronic measurement of the brain (especially the functions of the subconscious mind) suggests reveals what does and doesn't attract and retain attention, what does and doesn't appeal initially, what does and doesn't sustain appeal over time, etc. According to Lindstrom, this is the context within which to understand the "tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy."

Here are the titles and subtitles of the book's first four (of nine) chapters:

1 Buy Buy Baby: When companies start marketing to us in the womb
2. Peddling Panic and Paranoia: Why fear sells
3. I Can't Quit You: Brand addicts, shopaholics, and why we can't live without our smart phones
4. Buy It, Get Laid: The new face of sex (and the sexes) in advertising

It is by no means a stretch of the imagination to consider the implications and potential impact of all this with regard to federal, state, and local elections that involve both selection of public officials and acceptance or rejection of bond issues.

Whatever Lindstrom's inadequacies may be as a prose stylist (FYI, I think he communicates very well), he has made a significant contribution to our understanding of how much more difficult it is to influence not only the purchase-decision process but indeed [begin italics] any [end italics] any process by which opinions are formed, decisions are made, information is shared, etc.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marketing - A curse on humanity?, 14 Oct 2012
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
There is some very scary stuff in here about how the marketing mind works and thinks! Read and learn and avoid marketing types!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brandwashed, 5 Feb 2012
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
We can buy anything we want. The choices presented to us would, in a rational world take more than a lifetime to decode. And the product range we select from is being added to on a daily basis. The internet has made our lifestyle choices and needs both enviable and un-enviable at the same time. So, how do we choose? And how much of our eventual choice is controlled by the power exerted by major product brands.

In "Brandwashed" by Martin Lindstrom, this power is put under the microscope. From the cradle to the grave, brands have but one objective, to get you to buy as much of their products as possible. And they use a wide variety of tools to engage, assess and market their products to you. The data that shops collect from you via your loyalty card, to demographic analysis of towns and cities allow companies to target their advertising to maximum effect.

In the book, celebrity culture is dissected with their ability to ignite passions and influence purchases - Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton anyone? There are also sections on the use of fear and guilt to subvert normal anxieties and get a sale, such as in the cosmetic, medical and insurance industries. There is nothing that companies will not try to persuade you to part with your hard earned cash.

As the connectivity of the industrialised world gets deeper, there is more information available to analyse - from determining which computer you used to print out that 30% OFF coupon, to the Facebook profiles of anyone that used that machine. Maybe there's an opportunity to develop a data-crunching machine that can profile and analyse all of this information.

Martin Lindstrom has written a very important book, that is a natural follow-on to books such as No Logo by Naomi Klein. Ignore it at your peril, or you may continue to make purchases that make no sense, but fit into what the internet thinks is your lifestyle.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insider glimpse at the ploys and methods that are designed to influence consumers behaviours, 28 Jan 2012
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This book is a cleverly written and breathtaking introduction to the world of media, marketing, advertsing and consumerism that we are embedded within and breathe in everyday. Martin Lindstrom provides a great tourists guide to this strange world that we inhabit and the incredible amount of research and cutting edge psychology and neuroscience that marketers and big businesses expend and develop to influence not only our buying behaviour but also our identities as consumers and the 'power of brands'. It is a bit unputdownable as a book and ... of course...well marketed! Some of the heavy emphasis and conclusions too readily drawn from reliance upon the methodology of fMRI scans ect are over-egged, to put it mildly, but the very fact that that cutting edge technology is used to develop and market products is eye-opening.

This is a 'must have' book for the post-modern human (note the irony). An enjoyable read but strangely left me feeling quite 'depressed' at the same time as it really does make you more aware of how easily manipulated, fooled and exploited we are as modern consumers by the machiavellian and covert, clever and subtle marketing tactics on a daily basis. The good thing is that Martin Lindstrom is kinda doing a 'public service' by 'opening our eyes' to these tactics, some of which sound like a covert guerrilla warfare on us naive and trusting cashcows and therefore helps to 'wise up' the reader.

Martin Lindstrom primarily focuses on the proximal psychology of marketing and why it works so effectively rather than explore our susceptibility to these tactics from an evolutionary perspective as some recent publications have done such as Geoffrey Miller's 'Must Have'/'Spent'. The content is fascinating, particularly on the details of the techniques and the illusions they generate at a sensory, behavioural, physiological and psychological level, including the deployment of Muzak, store design, colour, the use of an illusory nostlagia and memories ect.

A book I will definately be reading again, cos it was kinda like eating fast food, full of fats and sugars so irresistable to the taste buds and enjoyably binged on, and rather annoying to my partner who was constantly availed of tidbits of 'wow did you know this!!!?'. Particularly loved the section on celebrities and branding and Martin Lindstrom's take on the Royal Family as a brand and full of ethical, moral and social implications that Lindstrom only lightly touches upon and will definately need to be explored and critiqued further.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad to be in the Know, 21 Feb 2012
By 
Lady Lisa (Glasgow United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
Well, this certainly lived up to my expectations. Extremely informative and full of Ah Ha moments. The most disturbing information for me was the electronic tracking section, as I had considered myself quite well informed on that subject until I read this. Armed with the knowledge, when a marketing email popped into my inbox not 5 minutes after I anonymously browsed a high end hifi website, advertising exactly what I had viewed but in my mind, without giving any personal details, I knew that I had made a very wise investment in this book. Bonfire of the loyalty cards in my back garden.
Really excellent, who knows how much this will save me?
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and eye-opening look at branding, 2 Feb 2012
This review is from: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy (Paperback)
Got this on Monday at the author's superb British Library event and read it in just a few days, could hardly put it down. It's a fascinating - and at times, scary - look at the deception and manipulation used by marketers today in order to get their customers to buy their products. Lindstrom gets to the very heart of some shocking revelations. One story about a Phillippines confectionary company who gave chemically-addictive products to pregnant mothers in order for their babies to become addicted to their products beggars belief! Lots of industry inside info, but written in a very readable style.

I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in the marketing industry and anyone who wants to understand how they are being brainwashed to buy products and brands, but I warn you it's not a comfortable read!
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