It is surprising to learn just how little Marconi knew about the theory of radio waves and why his invention worked: He proceeded intuitively, scaling up the size of the equipment to massive proportions to transmit messages over longer distances. Progress was rarely smooth: Just as is the case today, there were puzzling losses of signal followed by equally mysterious reconnections. But the new medium received regular publicity boosts as radio began to figure prominently in the broadcast of spectacular news events, such as the rescue in 1912 of the survivors of the Titanic shipwreck.
Unfortunately, Marconi’s gift for science and entrepreneurship had no counterpart in politics, and until his death in 1937, he was a supporter and friend of Benito Mussolini. This lively book does a fine job recounting Marconi’s life and work.
How to Advertise: Building Brands and Business in the New Marketing World
By Kenneth Roman, Jane Maas, and Martin Nisenholtz
Thomas Dunne Books, 2003
268 pages, $24.95
This third edition of a classic aimed at generalist users and creators of advertising services is written in the tradition of David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. The authors (Kenneth Roman is former chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide; Jane Maas is chairman emeritus of Earle Palmer Brown; Martin Nisenholtz is CEO of New York Times Digital) acknowledge their debt to David Ogilvy and his philosophy of research, results, creative brilliance, and professional discipline. How to Advertise is organized in two parts: “What to Say — and Where to Say It” and “Getting the Message Out.”
The style is succinct and to the point: “Advertising is the art of delivering a sales proposition in an attention-getting, involving vehicle and positioning the product uniquely in the consumer’s mind.” The book is also well organized with short chapters and multiple headings and checklists.
The biggest change that has occurred since the previous (1992) edition is, of course, the emergence of the Internet. Although the predictions of the demise of “advertising as we know it” have proved premature, the Internet is having a significant impact (albeit as an enabling technology, not a disruptive one). The authors emphasize the continuity of the Web with other advertising media and the need to integrate the messages into an overall brand strategy.
If you want to catch up on the state of the art in thinking about advertising, you can’t do better than using How to Advertise.
Fortune Favors the Bold: What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity
By Lester Thurow
340 pages, $26.95
A good deal has been written about globalization and the fate of the world economy from many perspectives — those of economists and financiers, ethicists and anticapitalists. What Lester Thurow, the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics at MIT, adds to the debate with Fortune Favors the Bold is a provocative analysis of the problems globalization has created and pungent prescriptions for public policy change.
Professor Thurow sees globalization as an “economic Tower of Babel being built without construction plans” — the outcome of a complex interplay of technologies that gives corporations significantly greater freedom to locate their operations and support functions in countries where they can minimize their costs of production. The resulting dislocation of people and communities is just one of the more visible and disturbing aspects of globalization. Although there is no conscious plan for globalization and its progress seems inexorable, Professor Thurow suggests that its trajectory can be shaped. The result, however, is unlikely to be a smooth curve. Crashes and crises are endemic to capitalism, in his view, a product of its volatile genetic mix of “greed, optimism, and the herd mentality.”