Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From The Pioneers to the Mad Men and Guerillas to Tweets

The Age of Persuasion- How Marketing Ate Our Culture - Terry O’Reilly and Mike Tennant

(Counterpoint Books)

Who would ever believe that a book about the history and inside baseball of the advertising industry could be so interesting? Probably the same people that made a hit out of the Age of Persuasion radio program on Sirius satellite radio.

Authors, ad men and radio hosts Terry O’Reilly and Mike Tennant have tapped into our popular culture fascination with advertising and the people who create it. Television is rife with programs about the ad game from the wildly popular; Mad Men and thirtysomething to Bewitched and the recently failed Trust Me.

I n The Age of Persuasion, O’Reilly and Tennant offer insiders insights into the mechanics of the advertising business. They also offer a unique chronology, working their way through the historic beginnings of the fledgling ad agency, as one man gathers basic ads from business people and sends them via Morse Code to newspapers around the quickly expanding United States.

O’Reilly and Tennant pepper The Age of Persuasion with anecdotes and quotes from the legends of advertising that makes this an indispensible learning tool for those who are in the business or those that aspire to it.

The thing I found most difficult to balance was the author’s contention that people in the advertising business are just as hacked off about the constant marketing onslaught that we face on a daily basis as the average consumer. Their claim that the bombardment makes it easy for ad messages to get lost in a sea of commercials flies in the face of their push for strong creative.

The complaints about the over-saturation of commercials messages and images is a familiar refrain among consumers, but it treads new territory coming from a couple of guys who make their living in the business. At the end of the day O’Reilly and Tenant don’t really offer any solution to the overcrowding.

Given the rapid pace of the evolution of how we as a society communicates it seems unlikely that marketing messages won’t continue to keep pace. It’s equally likely that in order to compete and make their clients products standout, ad men who can deliver the creative goods will continue to prosper. Which based upon the historical content included in The Age of Persuasion is the way it’s always been.

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