Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

Foreword by Morgan Spurlock

From the bestselling author of Buyology comes a shocking insider’s look at how today’s global giants conspire to obscure the truth and manipulate our minds, all in service of  persuading us to buy.
 
Marketing visionary Martin Lindstrom has been on the front lines of the branding wars for over twenty years.  Here, he turns the spotlight on his own industry, drawing on all he has witnessed behind closed doors, exposing for the first time the full extent of the psychological tricks and traps that companies devise to win our hard-earned dollars.
 
Picking up from where Vance Packard’s bestselling classic, The Hidden Persuaders, left off more than half-a-century ago, Lindstrom reveals:
 
   • New findings that reveal how advertisers and marketers intentionally target children at an alarmingly young age – starting when they are still in the womb!
   • Shocking results of an fMRI study which uncovered what heterosexual men really think about when they see sexually provocative advertising (hint: it isn’t their girlfriends).
   • How marketers and retailers stoke the flames of public panic and capitalize on paranoia over global contagions, extreme weather events, and food contamination scares.
   • The first ever neuroscientific evidence proving how addicted we all are to our iPhones and our Blackberry’s (and the shocking reality of cell phone addiction – it can be harder to shake than addictions to drugs and alcohol).
   • How companies of all stripes are secretly mining our digital footprints to uncover some of the most intimate details of our private lives, then using that information to target us with ads and offers ‘perfectly tailored’ to our psychological profiles.
   • How certain companies, like the maker of one popular lip balm, purposely adjust their formulas in order to make their products chemically addictive.   
   • What a 3-month long guerilla marketing experiment, conducted specifically for this book, tells us about the most powerful hidden persuader of them all.
   • And much, much more. 
 This searing expose introduces a new class of tricks, techniques, and seductions – the Hidden Persuaders of the 21st century- and shows why they are more insidious and pervasive than ever. Foreword by Morgan Spurlock

From the bestselling author of Buyology comes a shocking insider’s look at how today’s global giants conspire to obscure the truth and manipulate our minds, all in service of  persuading us to buy.
 
Marketing visionary Martin Lindstrom has been on the front lines of the branding wars for over twenty years.  Here, he turns the spotlight on his own industry, drawing on all he has witnessed behind closed doors, exposing for the first time the full extent of the psychological tricks and traps that companies devise to win our hard-earned dollars.
 
Picking up from where Vance Packard’s bestselling classic, The Hidden Persuaders, left off more than half-a-century ago, Lindstrom reveals:
 
   • New findings that reveal how advertisers and marketers intentionally target children at an alarmingly young age – starting when they are still in the womb!
   • Shocking results of an fMRI study which uncovered what heterosexual men really think about when they see sexually provocative advertising (hint: it isn’t their girlfriends).
   • How marketers and retailers stoke the flames of public panic and capitalize on paranoia over global contagions, extreme weather events, and food contamination scares.
   • The first ever neuroscientific evidence proving how addicted we all are to our iPhones and our Blackberry’s (and the shocking reality of cell phone addiction – it can be harder to shake than addictions to drugs and alcohol).
   • How companies of all stripes are secretly mining our digital footprints to uncover some of the most intimate details of our private lives, then using that information to target us with ads and offers ‘perfectly tailored’ to our psychological profiles.
   • How certain companies, like the maker of one popular lip balm, purposely adjust their formulas in order to make their products chemically addictive.   
   • What a 3-month long guerilla marketing experiment, conducted specifically for this book, tells us about the most powerful hidden persuader of them all.
   • And much, much more. 
 This searing expose introduces a new class of tricks, techniques, and seductions – the Hidden Persuaders of the 21st century- and shows why they are more insidious and pervasive than ever. 

Amazon Exclusive: Steven D. Levitt Reviews BrandWashed

Steven D. Levitt is the best-selling author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics and a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He is a recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the most influential economist under the age of forty.

Why do we always grab for the-second-newspaper-from-the-top of a stack of newspapers? When we talk on our cell phones why do most of us walk in a slowly decreasing circle? Do you know that “Competitive Altruism”–e.g. keeping up with that neighbor of ours who also owns a spiffy Prius–usually lies behind our decision to buy a bagful of organic apples and shut off the sprinkler?

The strange ways in which we consumers walk, talk, and whip out our wallets underscore BrandWashed, Martin Lindstrom’s fascinating, entertaining, occasionally shocking expose of the drivers advertisers and marketers use to make us buy. I consider Martin a kindred spirit. He enjoys nothing more than uncovering the hidden incentives behind all kinds of human behavior and social phenomena, and the differences between how we say we act versus how we actually act (in econo-speak, we call this declared preferences versus revealed preferences).

Marketing and advertising are smarty-pants industries. They know a whole lot about us. A global marketing guru for such companies as Pepsico, Disney, McDonald’s, and Microsoft, Martin takes us backstage to expose the ruses and tricks companies and marketers use to get us to spend mad money. Such as nostalgia, fear, peer pressure, celebrity, and the inclusion of magical ingredients and elixirs that promise to banish all human worry and make you look sixteen forever–well, at least until you die. Last but never least, there’s sex. I promise you’ll get a kick out of reading who the real audience for pretty-boy teen singers is, how men really respond to male-underwear ads, and the drunken research Unilever commissioned before the company rolled out its randy TV ads for Axe deodorant and body spray.

I’ve read the first chapter of dozens of business books over the last five years; rarely do I make it any further. Indeed, I’ve only read two business books from cover to cover in that time period: Buyology and BrandWashed. It is no coincidence that Martin Lindstrom is the author of both of those books. Simply put, Martin Lindstrom is the most innovative and creative marketer on the planet. BrandWashed is smart, thought-provoking, and laugh out loud funny. It’s even better than Buyology, if that is possible. –Steven D. Levitt

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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3 Comments

  1. A Book that Uses the Same Tricks It Purports to Reveal As with many other reviewers, I was alerted to this book after hearing an NPR interview with the author and found his message well worth following up. After reading Brandwashed, however, it seems that Martin Lindstrom is a persuasive speaker but his focus is totally on marketing–himself and his books. 

  2. Caveat emptor: entertaining overall with some real value, but all may not be as it seems First, I’m very interested in marketing and have long been conscious of the manipulative tricks played by advertisers in their efforts to take our money. I’m no specialist by any means, but this isn’t my first book about the phenomenon. I came to it expecting perhaps one or two revelations (and I did get that), but primarily interested in how this particular marketer was going to approach the question. While I think he came at it honestly, there were times that I found the information he…

  3. Filled with a-ha moments that taught me I’m not as immune to marketing as I thought I like to think I’m not easily influenced by marketing. I shop used a lot, I don’t have a lot of brand loyalty—like many people, I like to think I’d see through brand marketing and corporate tricks. But this book showed me I certainly don’t always do so. 

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