Strip Tease

Marketing Stripped Bare
By Patrick Forsyth
156pp. Sterling, VA: Kogan Page. $25.00.

“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.” – George Orwell

Every profession has its detractors. Lawyer jokes are as common as houseflies, and the accounting profession has recently sunk to new depths in the public’s perception. It should come as no surprise then that the marketing business is sometimes held in disrepute by consumers.

Acknowledging this, those in the marketing business often take pains to laugh at themselves. We’re all in on this joke, the advertising pro reasons, so why not have a little fun while we’re at it? All in all, that’s a healthy attitude.

From time to time, a wag will appear who wants to share some inside marketing jokes with the rest of the world. Purporting to give the layman a peek inside the cloistered world of marketing, these “tell all” tales often turn out to be more gossipy than useful. Nevertheless, they are always fun to read and good for an occasional chuckle.

Giving us a British perspective on the ad world, Patrick Forsyth has penned just such a volume, and the results are mixed.

Marketing Stripped Bare, while undeniably witty and breezy, fails to deliver on the promise implied by the title. It does not give the reader piercing insights on the marketing business, and instead merely lays out several terms and concepts that appear in almost any marketing textbook.

Of course, textbooks don’t make us smile the way Forsyth does. When, for example, he defines an advertising budget as a “bottomless pit” and sales forecasting as “the process of anticipating the inevitable and then taking the credit for it,” we know this is someone who has spent many painful years in the marketing business. Moreover, not everyone can make sport of it all and remain sane.

Marketing Stripped Bare makes a valiant attempt to educate. There is the obligatory discussion of the four Ps, a SWOT analysis and USPs, among other useful marketing concepts. Yet all of these are treated with such brevity that the book must be considered more of a tease than a treatise.

Perhaps the best insight in Marketing Stripped Bare can be found on the last page. “However uncertain, however much it is hard work, marketing is fun,” Forsyth writes. “And that is even more important.”

Jonathan Jackson is an independent consultant based in New York City. He has written extensively on internet advertising and email marketing since the inception of the internet. A frequent guest speaker, Jonathan has addressed global audiences on marketing and advertising topics and also teaches marketing at colleges around the world.

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