This is a year of exposés — of Madison Ave (with Frenemies), of Hollywood (with The Big Picture), and of Washington D.C. (with Fear).
Madison Avenue was exposed by Ken Auletta, a veteran of the advertising industry. Hollywood was unmasked by entertainment industry reporter Ben Fritz. And the White House was ravaged by Watergate reporter and political insider Bob Woodward.
Frenemies’ subtitle, “The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business,” summarizes the book, which tells of the end of ad agencies, which these days are being threatened by technologies such as programmatic ad buying, by clients doing more creative work, by publishing platforms, and possibly, by the sheer size of the ad agencies themselves, which are crumbling under their own weight.
“Frenemies,” an American word originally minted in 1953, but which only recently entered the common vernacular, indicates persons (or companies) that are friends and enemies at the same time.
The subtitle of The Big Picture is “The Fight For The Future of Movies,” and Fritz summarizes it right in the contents page as: how franchises killed originality, why studios stopped making mid-budget dramas, and how TV stole movies’ spot atop Hollywood.
Moving back east to the U.S. capital, the subtitle of Woodward’s Fear is “Trump in the White House,” which could well be a sardonic take on Fear Factor, a TV show that aired on NBC, the same network that aired Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, a show that many believe helped catapult the host to the White House.
In one of the book’s 420 pages, John F. Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, is quoted by Woodward as saying that Trump is “an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown.”