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Brands in the Balance

Brands in the Balance attempts at one and the same time to ride No Logo's coat-tails and to serve as a reply on behalf of the global market economy -- it fails on both counts, writes Chris Bailey, marketing manager for North Kensington Amenity Trust.

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This book is published in a management series -- it shouldn't be. Drawbaugh takes a louche tabloid approach to his material. He has indeed interviewed some business people and he has read the Interbrand World's Most Valuable Brands Survey, which he refers to incessantly but with little illuminating comment or critical appraisal -- that is all. Like a tabloid freesheet to be read on trains, this book contains a few nuggets of mild interest and no real analysis.

After endless banal case studies written in the uncritical style of a corporate press release, Drawburgh finally announces his intention near the end of the book. He does this with a quote from No Logo. This is the best thing in the book, though most will have stopped reading by then.

The quote appears in a chapter which starts thus: "Brands can drive people to all sorts of extremes." The paragraph ends: "A teenager strangles a basketball buddy in the woods behind school to steal his Nike Air Jordans."

Anyone who thinks that this (a) happens regularly or (b) indicates the power of the Nike brand should buy this book -- but be warned -- expect disappointment, expect cliche and expect inaccuracies such as describing "the Channel 5 movie" sponsored by ShopSmart as "an evening UK television staple" which "gets [the ShopSmart brand] a lot of exposure".

It will be an irony of branding if anyone imagines that this book should be read, simply because it is published by Reuters and in a management series. I just keep imagining the author on a jury and understanding why OJ got off and Tyson will keep going down, even if he never touches another tail or munches another earlobe.

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