New Books: Lovermarks 2, Punk Marketing

Reviewing something is always tough because you have to appear authoritative enough to be qualified to pass judgments, and it is a double duty when you don't understand the books you are reviewing. The two books I received in mail last week are just that. On the one hand, there's a lot I don't understand about the two books, including their purpose. On the other hand, it's like, who am I to argue with Tom Peters who called the Lovemarks Effect "just bloody brilliant"? Or, like, one of the Punk Marketing guys used to run CP+B, so he must know what he's talking about. So, I'll shut up after a few quick bullet-pointed impressions:

Punk Marketing: Get Off Your Ass and Join the Revolution:
  • Welcome to another buzzword. In case you are wondering, punk marketing "is a defined approach to doing things differently based upon a clear set of principles for how marketers [...] can use the shift in power to the consumer to their advantage."
  • In the authors' own words, "There is no single idea in this book on which all else hinges." The authors claim it's a feature; I see this lack of focus as a bug.
  • It's informal and chatty, which makes it accessible to a wider audience but perhaps too verbose for a specialist who is looking for something new to learn.
  • It often interrupts itself with footnotes that amount to little more than a "Hey, ma, look at me!" hand wave.
  • The examples it cites are very fresh (the book is due in February). Some of them are not blogosphere's common knowledge.
Whether you'll learn anything new from this book depends on how deep under the rock you've been living for the past few years. If you have an RSS reader tuned into a dozen popular industry blogs and have visited a few recent conferences, you are probably all set. If you don't, the book sums up a couple of years worth of blog posts rather nicely.

The back cover says the book is a guide for "marketing zealots seeking to overthrow the remains of marketing as we know it." Zealots aside, I can see how this book can be useful in an advertising or marketing class as a secondary reading. It's about $18 on Amazon.

The Lovemarks Effect: Winning in the Consumer Revolution. Top reasons why you should buy it:
  • It will look nice on your coffee table or next to the first Lovermarks book.
  • It's more of the same (that is, if you liked "the same").
  • Lots of interviews with important marketing people -- makes for a good conversation starter should you bump into one of them.
  • One of them is John Fleming, CMO of Wal-Mart -- who would've thought Wal-Mart is a lovemark.
  • This quote from the CEO of Victorinox, "There's nothing more intimate than exploring the various blades and functions on a Swiss Army knife."
  • You should be able to expense it if you work in Saatchi.
  • The concepts are easy to convert into good-looking PowerPoint decks.
This is probably one of the best reviews of the original Lovermarks: "When I was a teenager we had lovemarks. They were called hickeys." But seriously, for all the shortcomings of the first book, it deserves credit for cramming a lot of marketing thought into one word and the second book takes off where the first one stopped. The Lovermarks Effect is about $21 on Amazon.

Here's a bonus for those who've made it that far into the post: Showmanship in Business from 1939. The last time I looked, there were two left on Amazon, but there should be a few more over at Abe Books. It talks about passion, mystery, emotions, guerrilla stunts -- all that lovermarky and punky stuff minus the filler. How's this for a 70-year-old piece of pre-Cluetrain ad wisdom: "Showmanship [is] an accurate appreciation of the other man's interest [and] the presentation of one's own proposition in a skillfully colored adaptation to, or portrayal of, the other fellow's sense of values."
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