Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet (Hardcover)

Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet

By James P. Othmer

Doubleday, 9780385524964, 336pp.

Publication Date: September 15, 2009



Liar's Poker meets The Tipping Point meets Mad Men-a hilarious, personal, and sneakily profound chronicle of the past, present, and future of the advertising business.

Adland is a book about advertising. Which is to say, it's a book about every issue and aspect of life on our morally conflicted, culturally challenged, ubiquitously branded planet.

On one level it's the wickedly funny, compelling personal chronicle of the rise and fall of a modern-day ad man; a riveting insider's look at the astonishing transformation taking place in advertising's hottest idea factories; and an introduction to the people whose job is to know what makes us tick, what makes us lean in, what we think we need and don't know that we want.

But take a step back from the tales of lavish shoots, agencies on the brink, and pampered mega-brands and Adland becomes much more: a snapshot of how we live our lives on this earth at this particular moment . . . thirty seconds at a time.

Funny, profound, deeply thoughtful, and utterly unique, this book is both a wildly amusing ride in Adland, brilliantly recounted, and an exploration of the value of life in the information age.

About the Author

JAMES P. OTHMER was an award-winning creative director and copywriter for more than twenty years at advertising giants including Young & Rubicam and N.W. Ayer. An excerpt from his acclaimed first novel "The Futurist" was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction.

Praise For Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet

“Othmer uses his often hilarious experiences to discuss the stress-fueled environment advertising springs from, how its message is targeted to consumers, and how branding can actually be a good thing … [His] engaging dissection of advertising gives consumers valuable insight into how companies manipulate messages to convince us to give them our money.” –Kirkus Reviews

"An enjoyable and profound read....It resonates with everything we love about this industry, everything we hate, everything that keeps us working in it, everything that makes us want to leave and everything that makes us believe in what could still be possible." --Advertising Age

“What Upton Sinclair did for meatpacking, Jim Othmer has done for advertising–only with far more humor and far less (physical) horror. Adland is destined to become a classic of its kind–a must-read for anyone brave (or insane or aimless) enough to toil in the fields of modern advertising.” –Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

“Advertising is an industry like any other, except it changes our planet daily. James Othmer, one of my favorite writers, takes you inside that world and makes the people and places real. You can dislike these guys, but you can’t ignore them. They make sure of that.” –Seth Godin, author of Tribes

“Othmer is a witty and charming tour guide who chats self-deprecatingly about his own Adland epiphanies and humiliations while leading us inexorably toward the birthing room of Advertising Next. A terrific introduction to what advertising has been and what it is becoming, a memoir-manifesto with warmth and insight, and a must-read for those contemplating entering the industry.” –Max Berry, bestselling author of Company

“For nearly half a century, David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man has served as the Old Testament for an industry. Now there’s a new one: James Othmer’s Adland. Fully aware of (but not made giddy by) the many changes that have brought advertising from the classical Age of Ogilvy to our current era of the digital baroque, Othmer describes the art of commerce with the insight of an insider and the bemusement of a novelist.” –Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture, Syracuse University, and author of Prime Time, Prime Movers

“From pitches in corporate boardrooms to beers at the Gutter Bar, Adland is a highly enjoyable romp through the world of advertising. Othmer’s writing on the industry is both vivid and poignant, with a lot a humor sprinkled in for good measure.” –John Gerzema, chief insights officer, Young & Rubicam, author of The Brand Bubble

“I’ve been in advertising more than twenty years and have spent countless hours trying to tell people how insane and hilarious and exciting and pointless and fascinating it all is. Now all I have to do is hand them this book.” –Jamie Barrett, creative director/partner, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

"Working in advertising can often be like the worst of reality TV – it’s like 'Survivor', 'Deadliest Catch' and 'The Apprentice' rolled up into one - and that’s on a good day. It takes a real writer to turn the farce into prose and yet keep a true perspective that allows the great moments to shine through. Having worked with Jim on farce, fantasy and some fantastic creative – I for one was mesmerized by our own doings – I have no doubt you will be too” – David Sable, Vice Chairman, COO, Wunderman Worldwide

"ADLAND pulls back the curtain on the advertising industry giving the reader an inside look at this oftentimes exciting, crazy, discouraging, and exhilarating business. With a unique blend of humor and insight, Othmer guides us through this rapidly changing business and lets us see the direction in which it is headed. A must read for any student of advertising." -- Rick Boyko, Director, VCU Brandcenter

Coverage from NPR