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