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Buying In: The Secret Dialogue between What We Buy and Who We Areby Rob Walker
Synopses & Reviews
Brands are dead. Advertising no longer works. Weaned on TiVo, the Internet, and other emerging technologies, the short-attention-span generation has become immune to marketing. Consumers are "in control." Or so we're told.
In Buying In, New York Times Magazine "Consumed" columnist Rob Walker argues that this accepted wisdom misses a much more important and lasting cultural shift. As technology has created avenues for advertising anywhere and everywhere, people are embracing brands more than ever before–creating brands of their own and participating in marketing campaigns for their favorite brands in unprecedented ways. Increasingly, motivated consumers are pitching in to spread the gospel virally, whether by creating Internet video ads for Converse All Stars or becoming word-of-mouth "agents" touting products to friends and family on behalf of huge corporations. In the process, they — we — have begun to funnel cultural, political, and community activities through connections with brands.
Walker explores this changing cultural landscape — including a practice he calls "murketing," blending the terms murky and marketing — by introducing us to the creative marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, and community organizers who have found a way to thrive within it. Using profiles of brands old and new, including Timberland, American Apparel, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Bull, iPod, and Livestrong, Walker demonstrates the ways in which buyers adopt products, not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities.
Part marketing primer, part work of cultural anthropology, Buying In reveals why now, more than ever, we are what we buy — and vice versa.
"The most trenchant psychoanalyst of our consumer selves is Rob Walker. This is a fresh and fascinating exploration of the places where material culture and identity intersect." Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food
"This book has vast social implications, far beyond the fields of marketing and branding....[A] must-read." Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do with My Life?
"Rob Walker is a terrific writer who understands both human nature and the business world. His book is highly entertaining, but it's also a deeply thoughtful look at the ways in which marketing meets the modern psyche." Bethany McLean, editor at large, Fortune, and co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room
"Rob Walker is a gift. He shows that in our shattered, scattered world, powerful brands are existential, insinuating themselves into the human questions 'What am I about?' and 'How do I connect?' His insight that brand influence is becoming both more pervasive and more hidden — that we are not so self-defined as we like to think — should make us disturbed, and vigilant." Jim Collins, author of Good to Great
A New York Times "Consumed" columnist presents a counter-intuitive look at the convergence of marketing and culture in contemporary life.
About the Author
Rob Walker writes the weekly column "Consumed," a blend of business journalism and cultural anthropology, for The New York Times Magazine. Previously, he created and wrote the popular "Ad Report Card" column for Slate, and he has contributed to a wide range of publications, from Fast Company and Fortune to The New Republic and AdBusters. Walker continues to write about the secret dialogue between what we buy and who we are at his own website, Murketing.com. He lives in Savannah, Georgia, with his wife, photographer Ellen Susan.
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