All Books

  • The Penguin’s Progress

    The Penguin’s Progress

    The best way to describe The Penguin’s Progress is that it’s a bit like Shrek, only with brand icons instead of fairytale characters. TPP’s heroes comprise a penguin, a meerkat and a lynx, who quest far and wide to discover the secret of branding. Inevitably, their quest takes them to all sorts of amazing places, including a mountainous region (where they encounter the Marlboro Man), a forested region (where they meet the heinous Honey Monster), a dystopian urban region called Madhattan (where they’re pursued by zombie Ronald McDonalds), a desert region (where they’re transported by Joe Camel to the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters such as J.R. Hartley, Howard Brown and Buzby), a jungle region (where they witness a battle to the death between Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog) and a top secret final region (where they finally collar Mr Kipling, the fount of all marketing knowledge).

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  • Postmodern Marketing

    Postmodern Marketing

    Like most people. I hate looking back on what I've written - cringe, cringe - and Postmodern Marketing is a perfect case in point. There are several typos in it, which infuriate me no end. I misspelt the Christian name of Fredric Jameson (so does everyone else, mind you) and added a 'P' to Auguste Comte's surname (typical marking mistake, I guess, sticking Ps where they're not wanted). There's also a problem with the header in the References section and, most irritating of all, when International Thomson reprinted it a couple of years ago, they did so in really thin paper, plus the cover is all washed out. I hate looking at it, I really do.

    What about the content, I hear you say? Who cares about content, style is all that matters and PM ain't got any!

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  • Postmodern Marketing Two

    Postmodern Marketing Two

    When I was writing PM2, I genuinely thought it was the bees-knees. Ordinarily, I'm very self-critical, but with PM2 I really thought I was on a roll. I'd convinced myself that this was going to be 'the big one' (comparatively speaking, you understand). So much so, that I even arranged for an accompanying web site.

    God knows why I was so confident, because I now realise that the book missed the target completely, a terrible mistake, embarrassingly bad. I can well understand why International Thomson chose not to publicise or promote it in any way.Some books deserve to sink without trace and PM2 is one of them. All I can say in my defence is that I made a decision at the outset to 'be metaphorical'; to develop every metaphor or trope that came to mind as I went along. I certainly succeeded on that count but the readability of the book suffered as a consequence. That said, I still think the underlying sentiments are correct - namely, that we need to break away from dry and dusty modes of 'scientific' discourse - though I undermined my own case with excessive hyperbole.

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  • Marketing: The Retro Revolution

    Marketing: The Retro Revolution

    This is an attempt – failed, naturally! – to set the marketing world alight. Essentially, the book examines today's retro-marketing outbreak - the new VW Beetle etc. - and contends that the marketing academy should also look back in order to see ahead. The book consists of a series of extended essays on episodes from marketing's past, which are used to draw some contemporary lessons from days of yore. It also posits an alternative to the Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control paradigm, based on theacronym TEASE. Now there's a teaser for you...

    Okay, since you ask, here's a taster for the teaser, the Preface.

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  • Free Gift Inside!!

    Free Gift Inside!!

    Free Gift Inside!! is the book of the article in HBR, which was itself a summary of the retro book. FGI, however, is not just a rehash of Marketing – The Retro Revolution. Honestly! To the contrary, I took the TEASE acronym, which was a throw-away idea in the final chapter of retro, and expanded it to book length. It’s a book, moreover, that’s written for a managerial audience. Oh, in case you’re wondering, I don’t consider it “selling out”. Quite the opposite, in fact. I firmly believe that postmodern marketers should take their message to the managerial mainstream, rather than opt for the “Hey, look at us, we’re the crazy guys, the radicals, the heretics” pseudo- outsider positioning. In doing so, they allow the field to be dominated by lapsed economists, quants jocks and analogous knuckle-draggers (as someone once described them).

    So, although Free Gift Inside!! is an attempted “mainstream” text, it isn’t a complete compromise. What, after all, could be more radical than beating the mainstream at their own game? What indeed. Beating the mainstream is easier said than done, unfortunately, as I unfortunately found out. FGI was commissioned by Harvard Business School Press and finally published by Capstone, a Wiley subsidiary. The story of the “transfer” is told in My Harvard Hell.

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  • Wizard! Harry Potter’s Brand Magic

    Wizard! Harry Potter’s Brand Magic

    Published in June 2005, Wizard! is probably my best-selling book. It was written and launched tocoincide with the release of the sixth Harry Potter, Half-Blood Prince. We thought it would benefit from collateral publicity, though in truth it was completely swamped by the Harry Potter media frenzy. Funnily enough, it has sold much better in Germany and France than in the UK or the US. It’s also available in Hebrew, if you’re interested. Cyan did an outstanding job on the production – Wizard! looks fantastic, if I say so myself – and expertly handled the associated legal headaches. I could tell you a tale or two about J.K. Rowling’s lawyers, but on reflection…

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  • The Marketing Code

    The Marketing Code

    The Marketing Code is very different from all my other books. It’s a novel. Yes, a novel. A thriller, no less. Well, to be more precise, it’s a marketing textbook written in the form of a Da Vinci Codesque thriller. It describes a heinous conspiracy at the heart of modern marketing, a heinous conspiracy that involves the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, the Freemasons and, naturally, the nefarious marketing campaign behind Dan Brown’s brilliantly successful best-seller. Some cynics have suggested that The Marketing Code is a shameless attempt to attach myself to Dan Brown’s commercial coat-tails (how could they think such a thing?). Others are wondering whether the Danster and I are estranged twin brothers, separated at birth (and there is an ancient family legend to that effect). But all I’m saying is that writing The Marketing Code was a wonderfully enjoyable experience for me. I hope you enjoy it too. Here’s the first chapter for your delectation.

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  • Writing Marketing

    Writing Marketing

    Writing Marketing is a book-length version of my occasional pieces on titanic marketing thinkers like Ted Levitt, Phil Kotler, Shelby Hunt, Morris Holbrook and the one and only Wroe Alderson. The basic premise is that, since every marketing academic is a writer – we get on by getting published, after all – there's much that we can learn from the supreme literary stylists of our field. These lessons, needless to say, run counter to the writing advice you find in how-to-do-it guidebooks (you know, short sentences, plain prose, simple words etc). Amazingly, Writing Marketing has received reasonably positive reviews, not least from Malcolm McDonald, whom I’ve attacked unmercifully in the past. Malcolm’s a cunning devil. He really knows how to get his own back. By being nice!

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  • Fail Better

    Fail Better

    Inspired by the imperishable Samuel Beckett, Fail Better! argues that we should pay more attention to failure. Although management gurus constantly chant the mantra of success – how to attain it, how to sustain it, how to unearth it, how to unleash it – the sad reality is that the vast majority of business ventures fail. Most companies collapse, most start-ups stop, most mergers misfire, most innovations implode, most CEOs crater, most R&D founders and most long-range forecasts flub. In Fail Better! I contend that failure is not only the key to success but also that many people who should have failed – on account of their failure to embrace ‘best marketing practice’ – may well be on to something, something that the rest of us can learn from. I’m thinking here of marketing mavericks like Madonna, Michael O’Leary, Rupert Murdoch and Gabriele D’Annunzio. Who he? Read Fail Better! and find out.

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  • Agents & Dealers

    Agents & Dealers

    Agents & Dealers> is a prequel to The Marketing Code. It features some of the characters in TMC, such as Pitcairn Brodie and Barton Brady, though it’s very different in many ways. The protagonist is female and the book starts off at a very high tempo. The first seven chapters, plus prologue, are attached. See what you think. FYI, the back cover blurb reads as follows:

    Love of Customers is the Root of All Evil

    A feisty final-year student at the University of Hustler, Abby Maguire is on remedial work placement. While dressing the shop window of Some Like It Hot, a saucy lingerie boutique, she is attacked by two lapsed paramilitaries, who destroy the store and almost destroy Abby. With the aid of her placement tutor, Dave Kelley, Abby escapes the psychopathic enforcers only to plunge into a noisome netherworld of arms dealers, money launderers, secret agents, neo-Nazis, paedophile priests, literary forgers and, most horrifying of all, freelance management consultants.

    An action-packed prequel to The Marketing Code, Agents & Dealers races from Edinburgh to Nuremberg via Belfast and Dublin. Spine-chilling and side-splitting by turns, it reveals the whereabouts of the legendary Spear of Destiny, uncovers the equally legendary encounter between Adolf Hitler and W.B. Yeats, exposes a ruthless secret society at the heart of Ireland’s unstoppable Tiger economy and unmasks the blood-soaked background to Dan Brown’s bestselling books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code.

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  • The Lost Logo

    The Lost Logo

    A sequel to The Marketing Code, The Lost Logo is the final part of my “management thriller trilogy”. Once again, it features the several of the characters from the earlier books and wraps up all the various plots, subplots, twists, turns, loose ends and suchlike. A pdf of the first two chapters is attached as a taster. My publisher has also produced a (very professional) podcast of chapter one, “Everything’s Coming My Way”. If you recognise the actor’s voice, you’re presumably a fan of The Archers. FYI, the back cover blurb reads as follows:

    What’s Brown and Read and Dead All Over?

    Booklovers beware! Dan Brown fans are being brutally murdered. A tour guide is killed in Paris. A webmaster is butchered in Rome. A bookstore worker is slaughtered in Sydney. All have their throats cut, photographs taken and the cover of a Dan Brown novel stuck in the centre of their eviscerated chests.

    What is going on? Who is responsible for the killings? Why are Dan’s fans being targeted in such a gruesome way? Where do the cryptic symbols on Brown book covers fit into the grisly picture?

    The call goes out to Simon Magill, former employee of Dan Brown and sometime marketing lecturer at Hustler Business School. With the aid of Abby Maguire, the brains behind Belfast’s black rose branding campaign, Magill endeavours to untangle the web of murder, mayhem and marketing strategies that surrounds them.

    The final part of Stephen Brown’s commercial conspiracy trilogy, The Lost Logo is a blood-pumping, heart-pounding, page-turning sequel to The Marketing Code and Agents and Dealers. The end of marketing is nigh and only one person can save it…

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  • Marketing Apocalypse: Eschatology, Escapology and the Illusion of the End

    Marketing Apocalypse: Eschatology, Escapology and the Illusion of the End

    Three of the edited books began life as academic conferences. Prior to the millennium, we ran a series of biennial conferences in Belfast , all loosely attached to millennial themes. The Marketing Eschatology Conference was held in September 1995; the Marketing Illuminations Spectacular followed in September 1997; and the Marketing Paradiso Conclave rounded the trilogy off in September 1999. The events were held in a secluded Retreat House, St. Clement's, in the hills overlooking the city and it turned out to be a prefect, if spartan, venue. Atmospherics and all that.

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  • Romancing the Market

    Romancing the Market

    Conference proceedings were produced for all three get-togethers, as were edited books and special issues of 'participating' journals. The Eschatology Conference spawned Marketing Apocalypse and a 'Marketing Eschatology' issue of the European Journal of Marketing. The Illuminations Spectacular formed the basis of Romancing the Market and Marketing Paradiso produced Imagining Marketing and a 'Taste of paradise' issue of Marketing Intelligence and Planning. Imagining is available in hardback-only, unfortunately. At an exhorbitant price, furthermore. I'm sorry. It's not my doing. If you write irate letters to Routledge -- lots of them, please, under diverse aliases -- perhaps they'll be shamed into re-issuing the book in paperback. But don't hold your breath.

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  • Imagining Marketing: Art, Aesthetics and the Avant-garde

    Imagining Marketing: Art, Aesthetics and the Avant-garde

    In case you're wondering, we did plan to publish a second book from the Illuminations Spectacular - Chronicles of the Celtic Marketing Circle - but it fell through for various reasons, much to my disappointment. However, a couple of the chapters from that aborted book turned up in the 'Millennium Special Issue' of Marketing Intelligence and Planning , edited by Professor Michael Thomas, a distinguished alumnus of our conferences!

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  • Consumer Research: Postcards from the Edge

    Consumer Research: Postcards from the Edge

    Another edited book, Consumer Research: Postcards from the Edge, emerged from a somewhat different set of circumstances. For some years now, a colleague from Dublin City University, Darach Turley, has been organising 'Grand Tours'. He invites various big name consumer researchers to give guest lectures at participating UK institutions and we all share the expenses. It works pretty well and the guests seem to enjoy themselves. Darach's travelling circus gave me the idea for an edited book involving all those who had 'passed through' the University of Ulster at one time or another. Actually, only three of the contributors were genuine 'grand tourists' - Thompson, Mick and Solomon - the rest had either attended our millennium conferences or were attached to the various host institutions in the UK. Pity about the colour of the cover. It was meant to be a sexy sepia but it looks like the book's suffering from a bad case of Yellow Fever. Maybe it is, come to think of it...

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  • Time, Space, and the Market

    Time, Space, and the Market

    ...Yellow sludge also afflicts the front cover of Time, Space, and the Market, an edited text that John Sherry and I assembled while I was on sabbatical in Northwestern. The book arose out of my interest in retro and John’s preoccupation with place – hence retroscapes. Our model was John’s sublime introspective account of consuming NikeTown Chicago and we asked our contributors, all leading lights of place marketing, to produce something similar. As ever, things didn’t quite run smoothly, partly because some of the chapters were less creative than we’d hoped, but mainly due to our difficulties with the publisher, M.E. Sharpe. Aside from Sharpe’s sheer slowness – more than a year from submission of the final MS to publication, a timescale that’s unacceptable these days – they balked at the original title, No Then There, and the subtitle, Ecumenical Essays on the Rise of Retroscapes. They then cancelled our “interstitial excerpts”. These were judicious quotes from leading literary luminaries on retroscapes (Carl Hiaasen’s wonderful essay on the refurbishment of 42nd Street, for example). Even though the chosen excerpts were all less than 500 words, the officially permitted limit for quoting copyrighted material, Sharpe insisted that they be removed. The book, then, is a bit of a botch. But it contains some interesting chapters, most notably Russ Belk’s study of The Sims, Morris Holbrook’s essay on his grandfather, and Pauline Maclaran’s paean to the piano in Powerscourt shopping center. In fairness to Sharpe, the photos turned out very well. We’ll give them that.

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  • Consuming Books

    Consuming Books

    Consuming Books is a solo-edited volume about – you’ll never guess – the marketing and consumption of literature. It contains chapters by a glittering array of academic luminaries, including Russell Belk, Morris Holbrook, Pauline Maclaran and Michael Thomas, on topics as diverse as Harry Potter, the Holy Bible, Martin Amis, Audubon’s Birds of America, book crossing, reading groups and all manner of other marketing goodies. Consuming Books languished in development hell for a long, long time. It went through innumerable title changes (from International Best Seller! to The Monster Book of Book Marketing). But the contributors stuck with it, thankfully, and Routledge did a fine job on the production. The contents page and Preface can be perused at your leisure.

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  • Consumer Psychology for Marketing

    Consumer Psychology for Marketing

    A couple of years ago, Gordon Foxall asked me to write a chapter on postmodernism for his textbook Consumer Psychology for Marketing (co-authored with Ron Goldsmith). Gordon has been very supportive to me in the past - Postmodern Marketing, for example, is part of his Consumer Research and Policy Series - so naturally I was happy to do the needful. Much to my surprise, Gordon then insisted on including me as a co-author, even though I only contributed a single chapter. Actually, I feel a bit guilty about the whole episode, since my chapter is a bit subversive and it spoils an otherwise excellent textbook. For a while, I considered it my postmodern duty to subvert every book I was asked to contribute to - Barbara Stern's, Morris Holbrook's, Michael Baker's etc. - but I now realize that I was just showing off for the sake of showing off. Sorry folks.

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  • Two Continents, One Culture: The Scotch-Irish in Southern Appalachia

    Two Continents, One Culture: The Scotch-Irish in Southern Appalachia

    You’ll never believe this, brothers and sisters, but my long-term Scots-Irish project has finally come to fruition. As previous readers of the Big Plans section will know, Beth Hirschman, Pauline Maclaran and I have been working on a putative research project for some years now. The first part of the project – my part – was published back in 2000. However, Beth’s side of the study has been spinning its wheels for quite a while. But, boy, has she made up for lost time! A co-authored book, Two Continents, One Culture, has just been published by Overmountain Press. It looks absolutely incredible. The photos have turned out especially well. Hats off to Hirschman, I say! Beth’s the business!!

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