Frenemies is Ken Auletta's reckoning with an industry under existential assault. He enters the rooms of the ad world's most important players, some of them business partners, some adversaries, many "frenemies," a term whose ubiquitous use in this industry reveals the level of anxiety, as former allies become competitors, and accusations of kickbacks and corruption swirl.
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.
...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.