Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon by Alex Hesz and Bambos Neophytou

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Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon by Alex Hesz and Bambos Neophytou

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: An intriguing look at the way fear and now guilt have become the route of many advertising campaigns and claims; this is a book that tells you lots of things you didn't know before but will readily believe now given the unequivocal evidence submitted by the authors.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 284 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 978-0470746226

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Did you know that Horlicks, that great sleep aid, is sold in India as a start-the-day energy boost? Not another concoction under the same brand, but the Exact Same Product.

This is a story from the book, without being the story of the book. After all, the title's subtext is From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon and while that little snippet is undeniably interesting, it doesn't really seem to fit in with the wider scope. And yet, to some extent that subtext is as misleading as many of the adverts and campaigns highlighted in the book, not because you won't read about fear and guilt and all those things, but because there's quite a bit more to it besides, especially in the introductory chapters.

The authors (there are two of 'em) have set out to lift the lid on the current world of mass media marketing messages, exposing them for what they are rather than what they would like you to think they are. In doing so, they cynically attack everyone from the M&S Plan A work to everyone's favourite love-to-hate brand Ryanair. They highlight the use of definitive tokenism as a tool used by some brands to focus your attention on the one area they want you to see at the expense of all others, much as a teenager on a night out might wear a low cut top to draw your eyes up and away from her cankles down below. It's riveting stuff, or it would be if it weren't so scarily true and misleading. They paint a picture of brands operating in a simple world with a straightforward motto: find a fear, exploit it, and use it sell stuff, and go on to explain the consequences of this with bang up to date examples from the London bombings to the election of Obama.

This is a 'chatty' book where the style engages the reader, with lots of direct address. Co-authored by two blokes from the wondrous world of marketing communications, it perhaps surprisingly uses both an I and a we at various points, but for the most part is a fluid read that gives you lots of food for thought. Take the subject of advertising. With lines such as, the question, then, isn't over being misleading, it's over how misleading you're allowed to be it's clear where the authors stand on the issue. It's not a flitty read, though, with clear evidence and anecdotes used as supporting arguments.

It's a little point, but I also appreciated that this is a British book, aimed at the British market, making all the references not only relevant but also understandable, something sometimes lost in books that originate from the American market. And, while the topic might make you think otherwise, this is a really entertaining and insightful read I was surprisingly drawn in by. It strikes an elegant balance between carefully crafted, intelligent arguments and broadly appealing readability.

My only niggle with the book was the length of the chapters: they weren't what I would call proper chapter length, and I had to stop mid way through one on more than one occasion, without any real guide as to where might be a good place to pause. While the chapters did stop at sub-headings, some turned out to be more clearly defined places to take a moment to rest than others.

I don't agree with everything the authors said, and I would have liked a firmer conclusion from their side, but this book gave me an immeasurable amount of food for thought, and I would like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy.

Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy Is Wrong by Martin Lindstrom is a not-dissimilar title, and does start to make you wonder how, in light of books like these two, the big brands still get away with all that they do.

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Buy Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon by Alex Hesz and Bambos Neophytou at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon by Alex Hesz and Bambos Neophytou at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon by Alex Hesz and Bambos Neophytou at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Guilt Trip: From Fear to Guilt on the Green Bandwagon by Alex Hesz and Bambos Neophytou at Amazon.com.

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