Booked

 

Compiled by FRANK DILLON

Candy-Coated Marketing

by Sheena Horgan

Oak Tree Press €1.99

Sheena Horgan is a consultant and commentator on youth/family and social marketing issues in Ireland and the UK and has produced a well-written balanced e-book here examining issues around marketing to children.

Today’s highly consumerist society is one in which children are exposed to marketing messages at increasingly younger ages and are now making significant marketing decisions for their family. This extends beyond the obvious. Motoring brands, for example, realise that the decision on the purchase of a car can be influenced by children and have adjusted their marketing budgets to embrace media such as cinema that the family watches together.

Horgan draws on research to make some interesting observations. Children at age five develop the facility for making the advertising/programme distinction. They can distinguish between ads and programmes via cues that include length, characters and credits.

However, children are hampered in making this distinction by having the same character in the ad and programme and so, where lines are blurred, cognition of the marketing intent is confused. This is complicated further online where branded content can be presented as games and activities.

How They Got Away With It

Edited by Susan Will, Stephen Handelman and David C Brotherton

Columbia University Press €24.99

This is an interesting collection of essays on the devastation caused to economies, businesses and individuals by white collar criminals in the run-up to the 2008 financial meltdown.

Topics include the workings of the toxic subprime loans industry, the role of external auditors, the consequences of Wall Street deregulation, the manipulation of hedge fund managers and what is described as the Ponzi-like culture of contemporary capitalism.

The authors come from diverse backgrounds including criminology, sociology, law and government regulation. While much of the book is based on an analysis of events in the US, there are also essays giving perspectives from Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Greece and China.

A recurring theme is the failure to penalise major players responsible for the crisis. The crimes of the wealthy either result in no official action at all or there are minor consequences such as warnings or loss of licences. Fines and prison sentences are rare.

White collar criminals, the editors conclude, are segregated administratively from other criminals and thus are largely not regarded as real criminals by themselves, the general public or by criminologists. Ultimately, it is the ordinary citizen that foots the bill for their behaviour.

The Outsiders

by William N Thorndike Jr

Harvard Business Review Press €24.99

Subtitled “Eight Unconventional CEOs and their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success”, this volume chronicles the approach of a number of maverick leaders, two of the better known being Katherine Graham of the Washington Post and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway. Characterised by being generally humble and unassuming, these “outsiders” avoided the limelight, eschewed lavish executive perks, avoided hot management trends and worked out of modest offices.

They are in stark contrast to the feted celebrity chief executive types such as GE’s Jack Welch, who are credited with being charismatic, cutting-edge and Wall Street savvy. Thorndike poses the question of which model we should be following – clearly the mavericks win out.

Among the lessons are that independent thinking is essential to long-term success, interactions with outside advisers can be distracting and that sometimes the best investment opportunity is your own stock. Other observations drawn from these leaders include the importance of cashflows, rather than reported earnings, in determining long-term value and the need for patience and boldness in acquisitions.

This is an eminently readable volume with plenty of lessons.

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