• Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom

      The subtitle of this book, "Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy", does not begin to describe the vastness of the information and insight about the psychology of marketing and consumerism that is contained in this entertaining audio book. We've all felt the urge to purchase one brand or another without knowing exactly why, thanks to the subtle or not so subtle influence of advertising. The author, Martin Lindstrom, worked for many years advising companies about psychological tricks that would persuade consumers to use their products. In 2009, this industry insider to decided to turn the tables and aid consumers by writing a book that would expose "how companies trick, seduce and persuade us into buying more unnecessary stuff." After doing extensive research and conducting his own studies he put together this book of different ways in which we are influenced to buy and suggestions for what we can do to preserve the integrity of our freedom to choose.

      To say this book is eye-opener is an understatement. Lindstrom not only discusses obvious advertising ploys, such as product placement and music playing in supermarkets, he talks about the use of social media to influence our buying choices. He describes the use of data-mining, how our personal information is collected through our credit card use, cell phone use, Facebook posts, Google searches and retail purchases, in addition to traditional public and financial records. This information is then sold to companies who analyze the data in order to target specific audiences for special offers. The companies are pitching products to us even before we are born, through the sounds and flavors our mothers are exposed to. Chapters called "Peddling Paranoia" ,"I Can't Quit You", "Oh Sweet Memories", and "Every Breath You Take" discuss the powers of fear, addiction, nostalgia and peer-pressure to affect buying preferences. Lindstrom's conclusion, "I'll Have What Mrs. Morgenson is Having" points out the most powerful persuader of all. He describes the secret multimillion dollar experiment that confirmed the most insidious influence to which we're exposed every day.

      The combined effect of Martin Lindstrom's text and Dan Woren's narration is mesmerizing, leading the listener to facetiously wonder if this audio book experience is in itself a case of "brandwashing". This skeptical reaction, however, should be seen as a testament to the effectiveness of the author's ability to instill the importance of being aware of the power of persuasion. Martin Lindstrom's Brandwashed deserves a respected place in any family's consumer education repertoire and should be required reading for young and experienced consumers alike.

      Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom
      Read by Dan Woren
      Random House Audio, unabridged: 10.5 hours on 9 CDs