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The Chaos Scenario

The Chaos Scenario

The Chaos Scenario

What happens when the old media/advertising order collapses and the Brave New World is unprepared to replace it? Welcome to The Chaos Scenario. In this fascinating, terrifying, instructive and often hilarious book, Bob Garfield is not content to chronicle the ruinous disintegration of traditional media and marketing but also travels to five continents for solutions. What he discovers is the answer for all institutions who wish to survive – and thrive – in a digitally connected, Post-Media Age.

What Others are Saying

"Which means TV channels are driven to air cheaper shows to make ends meet which, over time, could drive even more viewers away. Fortunately, this particular collapse, like the many other propositions Garfield puts forth, is far more entertaining as depicted in his book. Anyone who knows Garfield from his writing for Advertising Age or as a co-host of public radio's splendid On the Media knows he's irreverent along with informed. So The Chaos Scenario is more than a wonkfest: It's sassy. And it's startling. Garfield doesn't just sound the death knell for traditional media. He's arguing that every human institution must forge a new responsiveness to its constituency or else. Listen or perish. Why, all of a sudden, Garfield poses to the media establishment, is it so important to listen? Here's why: Because hardly anyone anymore is listening to you. Garfield has coined a term, listenomics, which he defines as the art and science of cultivating relationships with individuals in a connected, increasingly open-source environment. One of his shining examples: the Danish-born maker of Lego products, which tapped a global community of Mindstorm fans to help reinvent (not just buy) its line of robot toys. There at Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, writes Garfield, he started his journey as a chronicler of revolution. Not surprisingly, Garfield poses far more questions in his book than he has answers. (He has many suggestions for how YouTube could be profitable and he doubts any of them would work.) But the questions are themselves illuminating for the reader, that is, when they aren't triggering panic attacks. 'This is a revolution! summed up Garfield on the phone. Nothing is going to be the same!' It is fundamentally changing the relationship between every citizen, consumer, congregant and audience member and the institutions that used to constitute The Man. Now, for the citizens, consumers, congregants and audience (plus members of the media's teetering Old Guard), The Chaos Scenario; just might be the killer app to help sort out those changes."
-Frazier Moore, Associated Press

"In The Chaos Scenario, Bob Garfield ad critic for Advertising Age and co-host of the NPR show On the Media argues that the long-standing, two-way partnership between advertising and content is due for a violent rejiggering. This notion is a familiar one by now, but Garfield asserts that the big ad agencies and media companies haven't yet managed to fully internalize it. (Particularly television networks, which have so far weathered the storm in a way that newspapers haven't.) Garfield also claims that the painful consequences of this upheaval will extend to you, the content consumer. You've probably already noticed the punishing body blow delivered to your local newspaper after once-lucrative advertising niches such as classifieds and real estate got eaten by the Internet. Garfield's feeling is that your beloved television shows will soon meet a similar fate. It all portends chaos for the television industry. But Garfield foresees equal tumult in store for the big-time ad agencies. He predicts the gradual demise of the classic, 30-second TV spot, which has been the lifeblood of major agencies for half a century. His prescription: Advertising will need to be less about displaying hip imagery and implanting mood associations and more about interacting with consumers online, analyzing their complaints and desires (as revealed in their blog posts and Web site comments), and providing utilitarian information to those who seek it out. This approach, which Garfield dubs “listen-omics,” may well turn out to be a more effective method of marketing. But there's also far less money in it. To illustrate this point, Garfield relates an anecdote about the Six Flags theme park deciding to give away 45,000 tickets as a promotion for its 45th anniversary. They told their big ad agency to figure out the logistics. Once upon a time, the agency might have spent lots of time and resources creating radio spots or billboard ads, and then securing placements for them, to make the public aware of the free tickets. Instead, recognizing the new reality, the agency just typed up a little blurb on Craigslist. The tickets were gone in five hours. Worked great, but as one of the agency executives subsequently wondered: How do you bill the client for that?"
-Seth Stevenson, Slate

"Tales of total industrial collapse have never been so fun! Garfield’s analysis of the total disruption of the media industry (and how it may be reborn) is right, prescient and wildly entertaining."
-Chris Anderson, editor, Wired, and author of The Long Tail and Free

Winner of Gold & Silver 2010 Independent Publisher
Book Awards ("IPPY")

For fourteen years the Independent Publisher Book Awards have been conducted annually to honor the year's best independently published titles. The "IPPY" Awards reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.

The Chaos Scenario: Amid the Ruins of Mass Media, The Choice for Business is Stark: Listen or Perish, by Bob Garfield (Stielstra Publishing), was awarded two 2010 "IPPY" awards in the following categories:


GOLD MEDAL: Current Events I (Political/Economic/Legal/Media)


SILVER MEDAL: Best Book Marketing

Bob's Previous Book


And Now a Few Words from Me is a primer, a volume of case studies, an earnest reflection, and a hilarious exericourse in journalistic hell-raising. Advertising may or may not get better as a result of the book, but it will never be the same.

Click here to read more about the book and to purchase.

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