An intimate and profound reckoning with the changes buffeting the $2 trillion global advertising and marketing business from the perspective of its most powerful players, by the bestselling author of Googled
Advertising and marketing touches on every corner of our lives, and is the invisible fuel powering almost all media. Complain about it though we might, without it the world would be a darker place. And of all the industries wracked by change in the digital age, few have been turned on its head as dramatically as this one has. We are a long way from the days of Don Draper; as Mad Men is turned into Math Men (and women–though too few), as an instinctual art is transformed into a science, the old lions and their kingdoms are feeling real fear, however bravely they might roar.
Frenemies is Ken Auletta’s reckoning with an industry under existential assault. He enters the rooms of the ad world’s most important players, some of them business partners, some adversaries, many “frenemies,” a term whose ubiquitous use in this industry reveals the level of anxiety, as former allies become competitors, and accusations of kickbacks and corruption swirl. We meet the old guard, including Sir Martin Sorrell, the legendary head of WPP, the world’s largest ad agency holding company; while others play nice with Facebook and Google, he rants, some say Lear-like, out on the heath. There is Irwin Gotlieb, maestro of the media agency GroupM, the most powerful media agency, but like all media agencies it is staring into the headlights as ad buying is more and more done by machine in the age of Oracle and IBM. We see the world from the vantage of its new powers, like Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s head of Sales, and other brash and scrappy creatives who are driving change, as millennials and others who disdain ads as an interruption employ technology to zap them. We also peer into the future, looking at what is replacing traditional advertising. And throughout we follow the industry’s peerless matchmaker, Michael Kassan, whose company, MediaLink, connects all these players together, serving as the industry’s foremost power broker, a position which feasts on times of fear and change.
Frenemies is essential reading, not simply because of what it says about this world, but because of the potential consequences: the survival of media as we know it depends on the money generated by advertising and marketing–revenue that is in peril in the face of technological changes and the fraying trust between the industry’s key players.
About the author
Ken Auletta is the author of eleven books, including Greed and Glory on Wall Street, World War 3.0 and Googled. He is a renowned journalist and critic, having written the ‘Annals of Communications’ column for The New Yorker since 1992.He lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.
- • “Auletta works hard to get us to care about the fate of ad folks, despite our diminished interest in them or our distaste for what they do, because of their essential role as suppliers of the dollars that fuel the media ecosystem. If you “follow the money,” he writes, you’ll understand the importance of advertising and the significance of the threats against it, and maybe value it more, or at least disdain it less.” New York Times
- • “[A] timely dive into an industry in tumult … Auletta, a veteran New York writer who has covered both Wall Street and the media for decades, does a remarkable job of digging into the personalities and the covert deals.” Financial Times
- • “This is an insightful, well-observed, colourful book that should be essential reading for anyone who is interested in the advertising industry” Campaign
- • “Now more than ever, advertising is the lifeblood that sustains most journalism, television, and entertainment. But with the advent of Google, Facebook, and other digital players, the advertising industry is being fundamentally disrupted. Ken Auletta brilliantly chronicles this drama with his usual combination of behind-the-scenes reporting filled with colorful characters, surprising revelations, and judicious insights. This riveting book shows again why Auletta is the premier reporter of our era on the fascinating and ever-changing worlds of communications and media.” Walter Isaacson
- • “Intelligent and well researched, Auletta’s lively survey serves as an excellent primer to a brave new world.” Publishers Weekly
- • “Astute, colorful, fully informed… An important if utterly disquieting book.” Booklist
- • “A bright, informative take on an industry in turmoil.” Kirkus Reviews