An informative read from an author with plenty of practical experience.



An advertising and marketing veteran demonstrates that the keys to a successful consumer brand may be simple but making them work isn’t easy.

McGhie’s take on brand development and positioning is based on his three decades at Ogilvy & Mather, Sterling Brands and other leading consumer marketers (from the start of the book, he begs marketers to stop using “brand” as a verb). By McGhie’s definition, a company’s brand isn’t an outcome the company can wholly control; rather, it’s the public’s response to the product and experience the company offers. The book encourages marketers to focus their efforts on the aspects of the product and experience within their control, which McGhie calls “positioning.” With a focus more on concepts and strategy than implementation and tactics, the book draws on examples from the author’s own successes and failures, along with well-known brand histories. Apple is the object of copious praise—readers will be left with no questions about what McGhie thinks of his Kindle Fire in comparison to Apple products—as are Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, Nike’s unabashed embrace of the competitive spirit, and Google’s global vision. Sears, Jaguar and TiVo make frequent appearances as examples of positioning efforts gone wrong. Among McGhie’s key themes, which appear in different contexts throughout the book, are the importance of understanding what customers do (as opposed to what they say) and the necessity of ensuring that the product is prepared to deliver everything its messaging promises. While these lessons will be familiar to students and practitioners of marketing, McGhie’s style—especially his evident antipathy toward marketing jargon—and his obvious passion for the business make the book an engaging read that may well spark some refreshing corner-office epiphanies. An end-of-the-book restatement of each chapter’s major points is useful as a quick reference.

An informative read from an author with plenty of practical experience.

Pub Date: April 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1599323275

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2012

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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