It's a comment on the currency of data ... a brightly readable, cinematic tour through the seismic changes currently altering the face and the very nature of the marketing and advertising professions ... all these wheeling and dealing men and women come alive like characters in a novel ... Auletta has this formula down to a science, although in a book as data-heavy as Frenemies the formula sometimes feels like a distraction from the main subject; less color and more data might have been the wiser course for this kind of topic. But Frenemies is nevertheless the most vivid account to date of what may be the most crucial moment in advertising history— the moment when data went from servant to master.
There are martinis aplenty scattered among the pages of Frenemies, lending a nostalgic touch to the forward-facing proceedings.... Alas, Frenemies can’t avoid a pitfall common to such topical books, in that some of what’s chronicled has been overtaken by events between writing and publication.
It is telling that one of the most prominent and memorable figures in Ken Auletta’s new book...is Don Draper, the fictional executive at the center of the celebrated television series Mad Men The real-life advertising and marketing executives Auletta quotes in Frenemies talk about Draper like he’s an actual person ... Auletta’s book, completed before Facebook admitted that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to data on 87 million users, doesn’t go nearly deep enough into privacy concerns, despite an entire chapter titled 'The Privacy Time Bomb.' He unquestioningly quotes Ricky Van Veen of Facebook as saying 'privacy is overrated' and bolsters that view with anecdotes about how teens and college kids love to share intimate details on social media ... The lack of a modern-day Draper makes Frenemies a bit of a slog for the general-interest reader ... Frenemies never successfully makes the case that the advertising industry, despite its massive size, is as important or innovative or influential as cable news or Google.
...one of the shrewdest, and best connected, media writers in the country; his pieces in The New Yorker are events in the media world, as this latest book, which stretches him from news to advertising, almost certainly will be ... In these pages Auletta is a painter who sketches an entirely altered ad landscape.
However distant, even repugnant, the advertising and marketing business might seem to the average consumer, it is the fuel that drives a First World economy, Auletta argues.... Astute, colorful, fully informed.... an important if utterly disquieting book.
Frenemies has got a persuasive thesis and the author has got near-perfect timing.... [however] Auletta’s book has weaknesses. I didn’t get the sense that he has much affection for advertising as a craft or agency people or their entrepreneurial ethos. This is a global industry and Frenemies has a very American outlook.... Auletta deserves credit for talking to a lot of people in more than 450 interviews and writing an entertaining book.
Auletta masterfully maps the rapidly evolving topography of the advertising industry.... Perhaps most prescient is Auletta’s spot-on analysis of the interplay between traditional and social media.... Intelligent and well researched, Auletta’s lively survey serves as an excellent primer to a brave new world.
In this well-researched, personality-packed account, [Auletta] examines the baffling choices facing advertisers (hundreds of media channels, billions of smartphones, etc.) and the technological threats to agencies, from ad blockers to targeted, computerized ad-buying.... [A] lively narrative, which delves into the major agencies and most corners of the business.... A bright, informative take on an industry in turmoil.