Bring Your Questions for Brandwashed Author Martin Lindstrom

Though the exact percentage is debatable, the fact is that the vast majority of U.S. GDP is made up of personal consumption.  The American consumer doesn’t just drive the U.S. economy, for decades he’s been driving the global one as well.  Though that dynamic is slowly changing as Americans cut back on just about everything we buy, for the better part of the last 60 years, the U.S. consumer has been king. And from this has sprung a massive marketing and advertising industry coldly focused on a singular goal: getting us to buy as much stuff as they possibly can.

In his new book  Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, marketing guru Martin Lindstrom trains a bright light on his own industry to uncover all the unsavory things that marketers do to subtly, or not so subtly, influence our buying habits. Lindstrom’s agreed to answer your questions, so fire away in the comments section. As always, we’ll post his replies in due course.

Oh, and to prime the pump, here’s the Table of Contents:

1. Buy, Buy Baby: When companies start marketing to us in the womb

2. Peddling Panic and Paranoia: Why fear sells

3. I Can’t Quit You: Brand addicts, shopaholics, and why we can’t live without our smart phones

4. Buy It, Get Laid: The new face of sex (and the sexes) in advertising

5. Under Pressure: The power of peers

6. Oh, Sweet Memories: The new (but also old) face of nostalgia marketing

7. Marketers’ Royal Flush: The hidden powers of celebrity and fame

8. Hope in a Jar: The price of health, happiness, and spiritual enlightenment

9. Every Breath You Take, They’ll Be Watching You: The end of privacy

10. I’ll Have What Mrs. Morgenson Is Having: The most powerful hidden persuader of them all: us


What, exactly, should we be teaching our kids about brands? You made a passing reference to this I'm your interview. Thanks.


I have no brand loyalty. At all. None. A bottle of Tide is something like $7 (with a coupon) - I buy perfectly good laundry detergent at the Dollar Tree. I cook from scratch. I buy 'dressy' clothes after carefully looking through the second-hand store/consignment shops. I own two dozen cashmere sweaters (yeah, some without holes, lol!) I've found at the Salvation Army store over the years. Brand names have no effect on me. I am destroying the U!S!A!


What about those commercials that seem to be just going for the absurd without overtly displaying the brand? The one that comes quickly to my mind is the current one, I think for a dish service for tv, where the players are wearing successively larger cowboy hats and facial hair. I can't remember the brand, even really the service, I just watch and wonder "what were they thinking?" Does that mean it worked?



is it a myth that the US has the most extensive marketing in public space?- i was in Ghana @ 7 years ago, and their largest city, it seemed to me, may have had more marketing than us (there were giant nestle ads pretty much at every signpost along their highway)- is it possible that marketing in public space may be a function of government vigilance, so that third world environments are more likely to evolve into 'marketing slums' (where marketing is ubiquitous in the public space), as opposed to the science fiction portrayal, eg Blade Runner and Minority Report, where marketing becomes integrated with virtual technology and so further encroaches on the public space in the wealthy countries?


Are there any major companies that have taken a wildly different approach to marketing and been successful at it?

Also, I've always wondered about those BASF commercials. "We don't make the products you buy. We make the products you buy better." Why do they bother marketing to me if they're not actually selling to me? I don't need to know about your magic plastic, the jet ski company needs to know about it. This has frustrated me since childhood. What part of the process am I missing?

Enter your name...

I watch no television. I run ad blockers online. I subscribe to no magazines. I have no interest in popular music or popular culture. I never go to the movies or rent DVDs.

I don't care much what other people have: I don't envy anyone's car, and I'm glad to have a small condo instead of a huge house to keep up with. I don't want a smart phone and have never bought an app. My cell phone is almost five years old and costs me an average of $8 a month on a pre-paid plan. My basic Mac serves all my computing needs admirably well.

My idea of fun is a well-written book, which I acquire from the library next door. I read the newspaper every day, including the drug-store ads to find out when shampoo and other basic toiletries are on sale, but the last time I bought something advertised in it that didn't qualify as a necessity (like toilet paper or dishwasher detergent) was last Christmas, when one of the department stores offered Dr Seuss books for $5. (Naturally, all the kids on my gift list received Dr Seuss books; they would have received some sort of book no matter what.)

I have given up on my appearance: I can't find a pair of either dress shoes or flats that meets the three basic requirements (not ugly, my strange size, and won't send me back to the podiatrist). Most of the clothes in the newspaper ads look strange, and my girlfriends never wear clothes that look good on my body, even if they happened to be available for tall women, which they almost never are. A trip to the mall leaves me wondering if I should give up on retailers entirely and find a tailor. My total cosmetics expenses are less than $10 a year. I get my hair trimmed twice a year, and already have a lifetime supply of bobby pins to put it up.

On the other hand, I've got a fair bit of disposable income, and I don't actually mind spending money. $300 a head for a season subscription to the ballet doesn't make me blink. How does a marketer reach a woman like me? Or have they given up on me, like I've given up on ever being able to buy a pair of dress shoes that I could actually wear?



In my industry (computers) and most others, English is very important (a doctor of Comp Sci w/limited english, will make about half what an IT Tech school grad with a Middling grasp of english will make)

If we want to increase world wide consumerism, (so Asia can share the burden of keeping up with the Jones's)
Should we be learning Mandarin/Hindi and sending our add campaigns to their countries?

Rich k

Read your book,really enjoyed it.
I'd like to know more about the Hypnosis and regression therapy as used in Physical therapy.
Where did you get the info?
I teach Yoga,the technique would be and additional tool in my classes.

Thank you,
Rich K