Archive for September, 2011
Hidden Persuaders II
A marketing guru reveals some of the secrets of his profession
Sep 24th 2011 | from the print edition
VANCE PACKARD was the Malcolm Gladwell of his day, a journalist with a gift for explaining business to the general public. But in his 1957 classic “The Hidden Persuaders”, he out-Gladwelled Gladwell. The book not only had a perfect title. It also revealed for the first time the psychological tricks that the advertising industry used to make Americans want stuff, instantly transforming the image of America’s advertising executives from glamorous Mad Men into servants of Mephistopheles.
“Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy” is an attempt to write a modern version of “The Hidden Persuaders”. Martin Lindstrom cannot write as elegantly as Packard, as his chapter titles (eg, “Buy it, get laid”) make clear. But as a marketing veteran who lists McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft among his former clients, he knows the industry well. It is far more sophisticated than it was in the 1950s, and just as cynical. Read full article
The great mismatch
In the new world of work, unemployment is high yet skilled and talented people are in short supply. Matthew Bishop explains
Sep 10th 2011 | from the print edition
“FAR AND AWAY the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing,” observed Theodore Roosevelt, then America’s president, in a Labour day speech on September 7th 1903. Today the billions of people the world over who seek that prize are encountering simultaneous feast and famine. Even in developed economies that are currently struggling, many people, perhaps more than ever, are doing the job of their dreams, taking home both a good salary and a sense of having done something worthwhile. In booming emerging countries such as China and India, many at least have a better job than they ever thought possible. Yet at the same time in much of the world unemployment is persistently high and many of the jobs on offer are badly paid, onerous and unsatisfying.
This has serious political implications, not least for America’s current president, Barack Obama, who risks losing his own dream job because of his perceived failure to have created enough work for his fellow citizens. As Mr Obama entered the White House in January 2009, the country’s unemployment rate was about to climb above 8%, up from around 5% a year earlier. It has not recovered since and is currently around 9%. Until the presidential election in November next year Mr Obama is likely to be dogged by the phrase “jobless recovery”—always assuming that the recovery does not double-dip into an even more jobless recession.