Advertising icons, characters, and mascots are often more popular than the products they represent. They are the ‘face’ of a brand (no pun intended) aAdvertising icons, characters, and mascots are often more popular than the products they represent. They are the ‘face’ of a brand (no pun intended) and become the stuff of collectors’ dreams. Warren Dotz and Jim Morton present a foray into the world of these lovable figures in, “What a Character! 20th Century Advertising Icons”.
“What a Character!” is a small, graphic, glossy-paged coffee table book taking a retrospective look at popular (or otherwise well-conceived) advertising characters. Dotz and Morton organize “What a Character!” based on style categories (i.e. human, literal, animal, etc) and further break down within these chapters by chronology. This provides a clears and concise understanding of the subject matter and also helps to show the gradual growth in the advertising world in terms of concept and campaign.
Each chapter of What a Character!” begins with a few pages of text explaining the rationale and reasoning behind the brand icon categories and providing some case study examples. The text however is very elementary both in prose and content which doesn’t help in educating the reader. It is strikingly evident that each author separately wrote respective chapters as the final chapters (starting with chapter five) are exceptionally better-written than the former and reveal a much more in-depth discussion of advertising campaigns and patterns. If only all of “What a Character!” was like this.
“What a Character!” features a solid-enough layout with clear and closely-shot photos by John William Lund. The photographs are predominately of product premiums featuring the icons so they are 3-D in nature. Each photo is captioned with the brand icon’s name, company represented, and date. This leaves something to be desired for advertising professionals who may be interested in information such as the advertising agency behind the icon. Such readers can pick up on trends based on their knowledge of the field but overall, “What a Character!” seems to appeal more to the general reader or collectors interested in retro pop culture.
One of the pitfalls of “What a Character!” is its super short chapters. However, Dotz and Morton amplify their work with a rarity index guide which grades the rarity of each icon product featured (which, again, shows the book’s appeal to collectors).
“What a Character!” is a ‘cute’ and ‘cool’ quick read/look into advertising icons best for those interested in pop culture—just don’t expect a lot of detail. The book is quirky but won’t blow you away. Dotz’s “Meet Mr. Product” is a much better artistic and conceptual look in comparison. “What a Character!” isn’t terrible but not amazing, either.
We are bombarded daily with advertising icons, symbols, and spokes-characters proudly pushing the latest products. This ‘in-your-face’ practice has beWe are bombarded daily with advertising icons, symbols, and spokes-characters proudly pushing the latest products. This ‘in-your-face’ practice has been used since the end of the 1800s starting with advertisements for medicines. Warren Dotz and Masud Husain explore art and history of advertisement characters in, “Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertisement Character”.
“Meet Mr. Product” is a full-color coffee table book which focuses on the presentation of spokes-characters in retro advertisements for various companies and products. Initially, Dotz and Husain offer a brief introduction concerning the advent and growth of print and graphic advertisements throughout the decades and the effects of media on advertisements (and vice versa). This introduction is easy-to-understand (albeit a bit detached) and allows the reader to look for particular traits in the graphic illustrations in terms of marketing. However, don’t expect an in-depth discussion, as “Meet Mr. Product” spotlights the art versus the history.
Following the introduction, Dotz and Husain present a gallery of advertisement artwork of both rare and popular spokes-characters of brands, products, and companies. This is divided into sections, including: Food, Drinks, Kids’ Stuff, Dining, Technology, Automotive, and Home & Leisure. The layout is clear and concise while the content within each section is further organized into groups of similar illustrations; allowing for comparisons amongst the photos.
Sadly, the caption for each advertisement only includes the character’s name, company, year of promotion, and the source of advertisement (I.E. medium used). “Meet Mr. Product” would have been more compelling with some text describing the illustrator/creator or advertisement agency who conceptualized the character, the reasoning behind it, etc. Basically, there is an absence of research and therefore Dotz and Husain merely display the artwork (granted, this is the intent of book but it would have been stronger with some text).
The strong suit of “Meet Mr. Product” is the whimsical and sentimental element of the brands of yesteryear and also providing chuckles in response to silly advertisements. “Meet Mr. Product” satisfies professionals in the advert field but also entertains general readers/coffee table browsers.
Lacking is a summary or wrap-up from Dotz and Husain, leaving much to be desired and instead the book ends simply with illustrations. This results in a weak conclusion to “Meet Mr. Product”.
Overall, “Meet Mr. Product” is a ‘fun’ retrospective look at advertising characters throughout the decade. Being a quick read (or, shall we say: ‘look’); “ Meet Mr. Product” is suggested for pop culture lovers and those looking for a quirky coffee table book. ...more
Sporting a business degree (advertising/PR/Marketing) under my belt means that I view the world, consumer and otherwise, in a marketing sense. AlthougSporting a business degree (advertising/PR/Marketing) under my belt means that I view the world, consumer and otherwise, in a marketing sense. Although I can predict trends and see market value; I was very curious about why ideas and brands affect us. That is where Jonah Berger’s “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” came into the picture.
“Contagious” begins with an almost 30-page introduction which appears to summarize the book instead of provoking interest, causing some trepidation. However, moving past this initial caution opens up a book which combines a business (marketing) how-to, case studies, sociology, and psychology. Using this unique concept, Berger strives to not just describe how to market ideas and brands but why.
The problem within “Contagious” lays in the lack of consistency. Berger’s writing is overly simplified for a general audience appeal. It is bouncy, too vague, and doesn’t dive deep enough or provide ample data; leaving many readers with unanswered questions. This means that much of the information in “Contagious” is either not memorable or is common sense to those who either studied or currently practice marketing. With that being said, there are heavier science sections which creatively combine business with a description of human emotional and psychological responses. Yet, this demonstrates the inconsistency mentioned. Plus, it is very obvious that Berger has knowledge and passion (and I can see why the university course he teaches is enjoyable); I merely don’t think he is an author per se (not because of poor writing but because of poor presentation of stringing together ideas).
On the positive side, Berger doesn’t just present case studies or opinions from sources but has instead conducted a massive amount of primary research (along with his research assistants) which is compelling and will draw the science readers to the pages. This is supplemented by photos and charts/diagrams which add to the substance of the text. Furthermore, the information and studies are very current and recognizable which eliminated the issue of a dated piece (although it will be dated in the future).
Berger has the tendency to be repetitive within each chapter on matters being currently discussed and with re-demonstrating past information. Although this may be to make ideas stick (natch!); it comes off as simply aiming to add pages to “Contagious” and not having enough new and conclusive statistics to share.
“Contagious” doesn’t reveal any new marketing concepts and is simply an update to ideas marketers are already aware of, making “Contagious” a light (albeit, entertaining) read and best suggested as an intro to the field. One must be careful, though, because sometimes Berger is very much “in-the-know” while other times, he is quite out of touch such as when he describes 15-year-old male teenagers watching cartoons on the couch when in actuality, they are more than likely masturbating to porn online.
The stronger portions of “Contagious” are clearly those relating to psychology, sociology, and behavioral economics. Berger appears more adept at these areas than marketing. The conclusion (this includes the Epilogue), however, is weak, unbalanced, and lacking any remarkable traits.
Despite my complaints, “Contagious” is a quick (1-2 days) read (only 200 pages) which will entertain with some useful quips for the entry-level marketer or average reader. It certainly isn’t terrible, it is simply light. “Contagious” is worth reading if you have an interest in the area and plan to follow up with more in-depth reading....more
What if I told you that much of your day is spent working out of habit? That, as opposed to having consta Advanced Reader’s Edition GR Giveaway Winner
What if I told you that much of your day is spent working out of habit? That, as opposed to having constant brain activity making decisions, learning behaviors, and using memory; you are instead like a robot to your own brain (which actually decreases activity within the basal ganglia)? Nonsense, you say? Well, believe it or not; much of your day is spent as a puppet to your habits. This may sound inhuman but there are positives to having your “life controlled” in this way. Our brains can “rest” and we can perform one task while focusing on another. Charles Duhigg brings to light how we truly are creatures of habit and how it can work for you in “The Power of Habit”.
Although instantly presenting informative and compelling facts regarding habits; "The Power of Habit” is somewhat choppy and disjointed jumping from a psychological/neurological book to a pop psych piece, and then into a business marketing book. This occurs too quickly and frequently within the chapters as if Duhigg was fighting to figure out the book’s identity. Although such a writing style can help the reader not be overly bogged down by technical jargon or boring science; it caused a dissonance by not allowing a steady stream of collective thought and makes it hard to focus. On the plus side, although “The Power of Habit” isn’t 100% cohesive, each idea explores is quite gripping.
Furthermore, Duhigg tries too hard to simplify the text and uses a very irritating method of quoting science professional which includes so-and-so “told me”. All the quotes are phrased as “told me”, which makes the work sound elementary. This allows the text to be easy to understand (and is accompanied by simple illustrations) and thus is great for an average reader but not recommended for a professional in the field.
Looking for a “how-to” book on how to change your bad habits? You won’t necessarily find it here (although the appendix features a useful scientific approach to a plan to undergo such an endeavor). Duhigg explains what to identify in the ‘Habit Loop’ and which aspects to change, but it isn’t as simple as this (which he admits); plus it varies by individuals. Plus, some of his suggestions of replacing one habit with another don’t always make sense.
On the positive side, “The Power of Habit” contains many light bulb and “wow” moments. The reader cant can’t help but look at his/her own habits while reading. This also bleeds over into the products/business mentioned and the marketing tactics explored, making the book quite a high-quality indirect resource tool for the advertisers/marketers out there. I would suggest marketing professors to teach courses on habit/craving formation and how to identify these (I have a degree in this field).
“The Power of Habit” is divided into three sections: (1) Individual Habits (2) Habits or Organizations (3) Societal Habits. The attempt to round all these areas into one common thesis is engaging, but the momentum slows down during the second half of the book with the connection to the thesis being slightly lost. The book is still very interesting but not as strong as the initial entrance. This loss of momentum continues through the book resulting in a weak ending.
Despite these pitfalls, Duhigg’s work does keep the reader’s attention is a very enjoyable read. It can firmly be said though that it is more of a business work which a marketer could find very useful than a scientific piece so perhaps that is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. “The Power of Habit” proves that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Now I know why I am addicted to Goodreads and why it is a habit to come on here! Full circle! ...more
I have worked in the music industry for about 10 years and firmly intrenched in the world in Los Angeles for the last 4. Not to toot my own horn, butI have worked in the music industry for about 10 years and firmly intrenched in the world in Los Angeles for the last 4. Not to toot my own horn, but I have a firm and passionate grip on music marketing/PR. Yet, even I found this book filled with clear, concise, and easy-to-understand information. Even I was sitting with a highlighter highlighting sections! Strongly suggested for any musician trying to make it in the music world or anyone on the business-end behind the scened in need of some reminders and sprucing up on business practices. Wonderfully presented in a factual but not boring way and updated on some of the new ways of the digital music universe. Must-read. Let me repeat: MUST...more