The 30-Second Seduction: How Advertisers Lure Women Through Flattery, Flirtation, and Manipulation

Andrea Gardner, Author . Seal $14.95 (283p) ISBN 978-1-58005-212-2

In this frequently facile survey of modern-day marketing, freelance business reporter Gardner likens successful advertisers to good flirts and examines their various strategies for wooing women. Borrowing advertisers' approach, she divides the industry into nine different classifications, assigning each a catchy label and devoting a chapter to its tactics. “The scholar” relies heavily on market research; “the show-off” depends on coolness and humor; “the sneak” employs product placement and paid word-of-mouth promotion; “the fence mender” embraces cause-related marketing. Gardner provides examples of each, from classics like “Calgon, take me away” (“the romantic” touting luxury and indulgence) to the “Share Your Secret” campaign for Procter & Gamble's deodorant (“the best friend” forging a bond with other women). Although this framework is a promising conceit, the boundaries between categories are fluid enough that some are easily confused. Moreover, Gardner is prone to broad generalizations and unsupported pronouncements that raise doubts about the depth and breadth of her reporting. Based largely on anecdotal research—interviews with marketing professionals and “everyday women”—the book lacks independent or scholarly research. Gardner also vacillates between criticism and admiration: she calls on women to exercise their buying power to demand advertising that is more “empowering, entertaining, and realistic” yet offers few concrete strategies, leaving readers to puzzle over the book's raison d'être. (Apr. )

Reviewed on: 02/04/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
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