by Chris Anderson, Wired, October, 2004
How the Web has started a complete revolution in the economics of the movie, books and music businesses: "If the 20th century entertainment industry was about hits, the 21st will be equally about misses," Anderson says. And he explains why. Forget squeezing millions from a few products: The future is in millions of niche markets.
2. `The Great Indecency Hoax'
by Frank Rich, The New York Times, November 28, 2004
Oh how we wish we'd written this sentence: "Ever since 22% of the country's voters said they cared most about `moral values,' opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies that might induce censorship by a compliant FCC and, failing that, self-censorship by TV networks."
3. `How Nike figured out China'
by Matthew Forney, Time, October 25, 2004
Western goods mean status, and Nike's preparations for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are supporting that belief. Just read it.
4. `66,207,896 bottles of beer on the wall'
by Kevin Kelleher, Business 2.0, February 25, 2004
This was an unusually smart insight into how one of the biggest-Anheuser Busch-tracks exactly what beer lovers are buying. Not to mention, of course, when, where and why they are buying it. Who knew an inventory-tracking data network could be this interesting? Oh, yes, Kelleher did.
5. `Seven Surprises for New CEOs'
by Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch, and Nitin Nohria Harvard Business Review, October 2004
Whether you're a minion who wonders whether CEOs deserve their fat paychecks or a CEO wondering whether your peers feel the same pressures you do, this is a must-read. It's not radical thinking, but it is a refreshingly common-sense look at the realities of being a business leader.
6. `When George meets John'
by James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2004
As early as July, Fallows was trying to explain Dubya's communication genius across to the rest of us. The president and his people took non- believers to marketing school-Fallows explains what he can teach us all.
7. `High Prices'
by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, October 25, 2004
Gladwell not only gives a refreshing perspective on the reasons for the high price of prescription drugs in the U.S.-i.e., it's not all about big bad pharma, as we're usually told-he actually shows why those high prices aren't actually that high.
8. `Consumed: Brewed awakening?'
by Rob Walker, The New York Times, June 6, 2004
In a society where everybody feels guilty, your morning cup of coffee becomes an ideological battleground over the ethics of the global economy, contends Walker. He goes on to ask whether the Fair Trade brand helps us feel good about the products we purchase. Walker's regular, digestible commentaries on consumer society are always a good marketing read.
9. `Hey, Mom, is it OK if these guys market stuff to us?'
by Jon Gertner, The New York Times Magazine, November 28, 2004
OK, so you're somewhat fed up hearing about the atrocity that is marketing to children. Still, Gertner not only takes a sensible look at that critical issue, but also examines how kids are trying to be more grown up and how parents are trying to stay younger longer.
10. `Attack of the superzeroes'
by Thomas de Zengotita, Harper's Magazine, December 2004
Where have all the heroes gone? Why are there no Washingtons, Napoleons, Newtons or Goethes? It's not just that they've been replaced by sports and entertainment stars, it's also that heroes simply can't exist in our performer-based culture. Don't know what we're talking about? Read Zengotita's insightful essay which explains the hero deficit and why being famous isn't what it used to be.