Frenemies: Book summary and reviews of Frenemies by Ken Auletta

Frenemies

The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)

by Ken Auletta

Frenemies by Ken Auletta X
Frenemies by Ken Auletta
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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Astute, colorful, fully informed. ... an important if utterly disquieting book." - Booklist

"Starred Review. [A] lively narrative, which delves into the major agencies and most corners of the business. ... A bright, informative take on an industry in turmoil." - Kirkus

"Intelligent and well researched, Auletta's lively survey serves as an excellent primer to a brave new world." - Publishers Weekly

"With journalistic precision, the author profiles the executives and companies that have dominated the advertising, marketing, and media industries over the past decade before pivoting to describe how relatively new influencers such as Facebook and Google have overturned conventional thinking." - Library Journal

"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

"Ken Auletta is a wizard at deconstructing the advertising business of yesterday today and tomorrow. If you're in or interested in media, toss this book at your peril…" - Barry Diller

"Frenemies really goes deep in examining the complexities of our industry from multiple points of view. You feel like you have a ringside seat in an industry that is going through enormous disruption. Well done!" - Bill Koenigsberg, chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies

"[A]n entertaining, insightful and occasionally terrifying dive into the heart of 21st century advertising. Auletta is the Bob Woodward of the media industries; his access to the inside story is unparalleled, and his story-telling is a treat." - Tim Wu

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Author Information

Ken Auletta

Ken Auletta has written the "Annals of Communications" column and profiles for The New Yorker since 1992. He is the author of eleven books, including Three Blind Mice, Greed and Glory on Wall Street, World War 3.0, and Googled. In naming him America's premier media critic, the Columbia Journalism Review said, "No other reporter has covered the new communications revolution as thoroughly as has Auletta."

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