Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors that Create Blockbuster Success

Vicki Kunkel, Author . Amacom $24 (296p) ISBN 978-0-8144-0946-6

Kunkel, a communications consultant, posits that the most persuasive and powerful icons and brands owe their success to an uncanny ability to appeal to one or more cultural and biological universals, our species' emotional and behavioral responses to certain stimuli (for example, the need for security and comfort, distrust of classically beautiful people). Unfortunately, Kunkel's evidence of these universals is vague and speculative—referring to research into the effect of sound waves on cellular structure, she asserts that just as plants dislike heavy metal music and uncooked rice thrives on compliments, “our body processes are altered” by sound waves—and she advises her readers to speak in rhythms that resonate on a cellular level. The author's appeal to science that is either clearly marginal or only vaguely related to her conclusions, along with her tendency to label as “universal” a wide gamut of folk beliefs and obviously culturally determined phenomena (such as the effect of certain words that have no meaning outside of the speaker's linguistic community), make even the more reasonable arguments in the book seem suspect. In the end, the author overreaches her grasp, producing a marketing guide that is unlikely to convince practical readers. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/13/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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