Alchemy : The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

Alchemy : The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

Rory Sutherland

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384 pages | Paperback

A must for any business/ideas library: The Ogilvy advertising legend—hailed as “one of the leading minds in the world of branding” (NPR) and “the don of modern advertising (Sunday Times)—explores the art and science of conjuring irresistible products and ideas.

An Entrepreneur Best Book of the Year

Why is Red Bull so popular, though everyone—everyone!—hates the taste? Humans are, in a word, irrational, basing decisions as much on subtle external signals (that little blue can) as on objective qualities (flavor, price, quality). The surrounding world, meanwhile,

is irreducibly complex and random. This means future success can’t be projected on any accounting spreadsheet. To strike gold, you must master the dark art and curious science of conjuring irresistible ideas: alchemy.

Based on thirty years of field work inside the largest experiment in human behavior ever conceived—the forever-unfolding pageant of consumer capitalism—Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland decodes human behavior, blending leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling, deep psychological insight, and practical case studies from his storied career working on campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft, and others.

His unconventional and relentlessly curious approach has led him to discover that the most compelling secrets to human decision-making can be found in the most surprising places.

Better “branding,” Sutherland reveals, can also be employed not just to sell products, but to promote a variety of social aims, like getting people to pay taxes, improving public health outcomes, or encouraging more women to pursue careers in tech.