Monday, January 05, 2009

6308: Harry Webber Is A Very SMART Guy.


Divide And Conquer: Target Your Customers Through Market Segmentation by Harry Webber was originally published in 1998. So yeah, MultiCultClassics is a little behind on our reading list. Allow us to explain.

We’re semi-embarrassed to admit we hadn’t heard of Harry Webber until he started routinely commenting at The Big Tent. At one point, we felt Webber was overly harsh in his criticism of a blogger there, and wound up trading emails about it. Webber essentially told us to buzz off, which immediately won our attention and respect. During the exchange, Webber mentioned he had authored the best-selling book being reviewed here. Sure enough, Divide And Conquer was in our personal library, having been purchased nearly a decade ago, yet never read. Don’t know why. But blog visitors should avoid making the same mistake.

You can learn about Webber at his website, MadisonAveNew, where he regularly posts his thoughts and visions for the advertising industry. Plus, a quick scan of Webber’s bio will show the man has accomplished more in a fraction of his career than the rest of us will probably achieve in a lifetime. He always seems to run a few paces in front of everyone else.

Divide And Conquer was—and continues to be—a book ahead of its time. Ten years ago, Webber already foresaw the challenges at traditional advertising agencies, spotting the key issues plaguing today’s practitioners. Declaring the death of mass marketing, Webber started leading the way toward segmentation, which he referred to as selective marketing. The wake-up call included straightforward thinking like, “Markets must be efficiently selected before they can be effectively sold.” Webber created the agency and acronym SMART—Selective Marketing Advertising Research Technologies—to move to the next level.

The book is comprised of 15 case studies demonstrating selective marketing in action. These chapters are different than typical branding reports, however, as each unfolds like a short story. Webber recorded the inherent human drama in the scenarios, presenting iconic or soon-to-be-famous players collaborating to invent breakthrough solutions. It’s a celebration of the creative spirit, highlighting the passion and enthusiasm that fuels the search for ideas.

The tales are diverse—from classic views of Madison Avenue’s Golden Age to explorations into the Web 2.0 world. Advertising aficionados will appreciate the historical references while applying the lessons to contemporary contexts. For example, the Ford Motor Company case study almost mirrors the current auto industry spectacle. Let’s hope a Webber wannabe will handle matters with equal savvy and success.

Webber continues his pioneering drive into 2009. His website boasts phrases like, “The Journal of NeoAdvertising,” and “Harry Webber Will Now Reinvent Advertising.” Additionally, he’s directing The Gasp Company, offering “Creative Solutions For The Post-Advertising Era.” Check out what the man is doing now. You won’t be able to catch up if you wait ten years.

Divide And Conquer: Target Your Customers Through Market Segmentation by Harry Webber is still available via major booksellers. Cost-conscious consumers can find used copies at abebooks.com.

2 comments:

harry said...

Damn Mr. Jive.
I read your review and I had to almost pinch myself that it was about something I did in another lifetime.

Thank you for your gracious words.

But I take exception to your comment about "running a few paces in front of everyone else." I am just one more fugitive from justice.

If somebody would just give a brotha a job I could just sit back and chill like the rest of the folks on Madison Avenue. But ain't nobody gonna be that big a fool.

So I soldier on.

Kiss my black ads said...

I've been lurking around watching this guy for a minute. He's pretty damn amazing. Great post. I'm preparing my own. He really has transcended the "creative" into the Creative.