Naomi Klein, Author Picador USA $30 (512p) ISBN 978-0-312-20343-6
In the global economy, all the world's a marketing opportunity. From this elemental premise, freelance journalist and Toronto Star columnist Klein methodically builds an angry and funny case against branding in general and several large North American companies in particular, notably Gap, Microsoft and Starbucks. Looking around her, Klein finds that the breathless promise of the information age--that it would be a time of consumer choice and interactive communication--has not materialized. Instead, huge corporations that present themselves as lifestyle purveyors rather than mere product manufacturers dominate the airwaves, physical space and cyberspace. Worse, Klein argues, these companies have harmed not just the culture but also workers--and not just in the Third World but also in the U.S., where companies rely on temps because they'd rather invest in marketing than in labor. In the latter sections, Klein describes a growing backlash embodied by the guerrilla group Reclaim the Streets, which turns busy intersections into spaces for picnics and political protest. Her tour of the branded world is rife with many perverse examples of how corporate names penetrate all aspects of life (who knew there was a K-Mart Chair of Marketing at Wayne State University?). Mixing an activist's passion with sophisticated cultural commentary, Klein delivers some elegant formulations: ""Free speech is meaningless if the commercial cacophony has risen to the point where no one can hear you."" Charts and graphs not seen by PW. Agent, Westwood Creative Artists. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
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