The world is more branded than ever before: Americans encounter anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 ads a day. Increasingly, brands vie for our attention from insidious angles that target our emotional responses (scent, taste, sound, and touch). In an ever-faster, more competitive global landscape fueled both by the rise of cheaper, foreign brands and by so-called house-brands (the eponymous brands of Wal-Mart, Target, and the like), American companies are in a mad dash to keep up. Branding, or identity-making, has begun to replace the research and development of yore.
From the fertile crescent of branding (Cincinnati), to the laboratories of sensory specialists (musicologists and "noses"), Lucas Conley takes us on a long-overdue journey through the strange culture that is our own. As hilarious as it is frightening, Conley's investigation into the phenomenon of rampant commercialism (often backed by little substance), offers an illuminating portrait of an age of obsession.