Where the Suckers Moon: An Advertising Story

Overview

From the moment Subaru of America - in an effort to counter flagging car sales - set out to select a new agency, throwing its $75 million account open to competition, Randall Rothenberg, formerly advertising columnist of the New York Times, was there. Out of his unprecedented access to the car company and the agency it ultimately chose - Wieden & Kennedy - Rothenberg brilliantly details the people, passions, politics and processes of advertising. He takes us into a world composed equally of chaos and comedy, ...
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Overview

From the moment Subaru of America - in an effort to counter flagging car sales - set out to select a new agency, throwing its $75 million account open to competition, Randall Rothenberg, formerly advertising columnist of the New York Times, was there. Out of his unprecedented access to the car company and the agency it ultimately chose - Wieden & Kennedy - Rothenberg brilliantly details the people, passions, politics and processes of advertising. He takes us into a world composed equally of chaos and comedy, terror and triumph, a world where sober M.B.A.'s clash with Hollywood egos, creative mavericks with research pundits - all of them in pursuit of the Holy Grail: an image that will live as long as Volkswagen's "Lemon" ad, a slogan as memorable as "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." In a narrative alive with authenticity and genuine color, Rothenberg takes us inside Subaru - the darling of Wall Street in the early eighties but ravaged in the recession of the early nineties. He enters as well the inner sanctums of the six major agencies that competed to top Subaru's once-successful slogan, "Inexpensive, and built to stay that way." He watches and listens as the Subaru executives argue about the proposals submitted. And once the winning agency is chosen, he describes every crucial twist and turn of its frenetic, all-out efforts to invent and then recharge a campaign - TV commercials, print ads, slogans - that will win the approval of Subaru executives and disgruntled car dealers.

In this incisive and informative book, Randall Rothenberg, the former advertising columnist for The New York Times, gives readers a revealing view of inner dynamics of advertising in America. Along the way is a history of advertising--its great names and legendary campaigns.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This richly detailed book offers an enjoyable and insightful ride into the American world of advertising. Rothenberg, former advertising columnist for the New York Times, had behind-the-scenes access to Subaru's search for a new advertising agency and the ensuing campaign. He describes agencies vying with ideas and flash (one rented 36 new Subarus for its staff), traces the U.S. market share of the stolid Japanese import automobile and unravels the philosophies and tactics behind hype as agencies propose new Subaru slogans. After Wieden & Kennedy wins the account (``Subaru. What to Drive''), Rothenberg delves into the agency's history with Nike, and the complex process of creating advertisements. Animated by deft description and well-captured dialogue, the narrative canters along, though Rothenberg, despite having so much interesting material, should have trimmed a bit. The book concludes in 1993, with TV viewers giving thumbs down to the campaign and Subaru firing Wieden & Kennedy. Thus, the reader concludes: much effort and creativity in the ad world often goes for naught. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Rothenberg, a former advertising columnist for the New York Times, tells a long, sometimes excruciatingly detailed story of Subaru's attempt to boost sales by sprucing up its advertising. The book reveals Subaru's unrealistic expectations of what advertising could do for it at a time when car sales were down at all companies due to the economy. Subaru had several agencies present campaign proposals, at considerable time and expense. Hired to put together a creative plan, the ad company Wieden and Kennedy, a relatively inexperienced agency known for its work for Nike, was finally forced to knuckle under, producing ads similar to those of other car companies. After these ads ran during the Super Bowl and sales were not as desired, the agency was fired, no doubt to its great relief. Businesspeople may find this jargon-laced insider's view of an ad campaign highly instructive.-Sue McKimm, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, Ohio
David Rouse
Rothenberg, formerly an advertising columnist at the "New York Times" and author of "The Neoliberals" (1984), uses the story of a single advertising campaign from start to finish to show how the advertising industry works and how those in the industry think and act. He colorfully tells how Subaru of America picked the Weiden and Kennedy advertising agency to turn around slumping sales of its cars, how its advertising campaign was created, and how it was ultimately unsuccessful. Sitting in on focus groups, pitches, "creative" sessions, and client meetings, Rothenberg successfully captures the essence of advertising and lampoons hype, pretension, and just plain silliness with delicious understatement along the way. In many ways, the story of advertising he tells is the story of American culture--given our consumer-oriented, media-driven society. This will be a popular addition to most public library collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679412274
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/25/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.59 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.61 (d)

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