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Book Review

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Book Review: Hub Culture

This is a first book written by Stan Stalnaker, the marketing director of the Fortune group, based in Hong Kong and London. His book as reviewed, Hub Culture - the Next Wave of Urban Consumers, was in hard back form (ISBN 0-470-82072-1), and published this year by John Wiley and Sons in Singapore.

The blurb on the back says that the book takes an in-depth look at “one of the most influential marketing target groups to emerge from the 90’s - the global urban modernist, a network of modern individualists who now live in a post-national frame of mind and orient themselves around hub living, using urban centres as bases for their particular lifestyle.” These hub people are the developing mass consumer force, according to Stalnaker. And consumers interest marketers!

In the prologue, Stalnaker defines “hub culture” with three concepts. The first is that travel and communication are poles around which hub culture lives. Secondly, hub culture is motivated by three lifestyle factors - work, leisure and relationships and finally, (and much more broad and somewhat less ‘graspable’) comes what he calls “identifying factors” including proximity, anonymity, culture adoption, biculturalism, ending with disposal of trends with studied ambivalence.

The book then runs through 14 chapters, basically showing what the hub culture people do, and how they relate to each other. One premise that Stalnaker uses is that the trendy hub culture folk are really “connected” no matter where they are on the world stage, and this is generally by email. I quote, “Some facts worth noting: the average hub worker sends and receives about 100 e-mails a day. This connectivity is fuelling an explosion in integrated living, where virtuality and reality become blurred.” By the way, the last chapter is Stalnaker’s stab at being a seer, and he does not make too bad a fist of it either.

Interestingly, one of the reviewers quoted on the back cover was Matthew Anderson, President, Asia-Pacific, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide who intimated that Stalnaker was “letting secrets out of the bag.” His own founder, David Ogilvy, did just that many years ago with his books, Ogilvy on Advertising and Confessions of an Advertising Man, and indeed his business flourished, whilst others ignored his work at their peril. While I did not consider this book to be a seminal piece such as Ogilvy’s, it is still profound enough to make the reader stop and consider his position as a marketer.

Stalnaker has managed to put the “obvious” down in print, which is in itself a rare feat. The truths in the book are something we have all learned to accept, but not necessarily “seeing” its significance. Stalnaker has, but again it is up to you, just how much use you make of it.

An interesting book and one that should provoke thoughtful insight. A must for the marketers in our midst - and especially those who might have designs on the Chinese market. Stalnaker’s book will tell you just how many Chinese are waiting for your brand name consumer item! This is not the work of an angry young man, it is that of a clever young man.

Music CD Reviews: Mott the Hoople - Mott the Hoople Part I

***** 5 Stars Rating

Under the guiding eye of late sixties pop guru Guy Stevens a band called “The Silence” hailing from that Rock ‘n’ Roll backwater Hereford were signed to the newly formed Island Records in Britain. After a few days rehearsal, Guy decided that original lead singer and hardman Stan Tippins was not the man for the job. He was removed and installed as road manager/roadie/blinder to be replaced through a Melody Maker small ad by a certain Mr. Ian Patterson on the basis of a half hour audition, where Ian spluttered his way through a version of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and Sonny Bono’s “Laugh at Me”. The band themselves were not impressed, but Guy Stevens thought he could see something, and probably recognized a kindred spirit, subsequently enrolled the young man in the band.

The band, without playing a single gig, were then put into Morgan Recording Studios in Willesden High Road North London and were given a complete makeover.

They were re-named “Mott the Hoople”, after the Willard Manus novel. Only lead guitarist Mick Ralphs was allowed to keep his own name, Ian Patterson was told to stop straightening his naturally curly red hair, let it grow long, lose 2 stones in weight (he was way too pot bellied to be a pop star), to wear sunglasses permanently (to supposedly give him that bit of Rony Orbison mystic, but must of left him feeling a bit of a gherkin in the pub at night), and rename him Ian Hunter.

Peter O. Watts was told to drop Peter and stick with his middle name therefore becoming Overend Watts. Terry Allen, too, was told to drop his first name and adopt his mother’s maiden name becoming Verden Allen.

Unluckiest of all, of course, was the drummer (if there is going to be somebody to draw the short straw it’s always going to be the man with the sticks). Mr. Dale Griffin esq. became quite simply “Buffin”, now a well respected music producer. 35 years later he still gets called Buffin and hates it.

After eleven days of rehearsal and getting to know each other, Guy took them to a recording studio and gave them 7 days to record their debut album - and this in the days when bands took up to six months to record an album. This sounded absurd, but you have to add to this that the rest of the band had only just met their new front man and weren’t even sure if they liked him. Guy Stevens, their new mentor, was dragging them in a new direction, a direction they knew was innovative, but had no idea where it was going. They had never been in a proper recording studio before and had only got two songs written, which Stevens wouldn’t let them put on the album anyway.

Confused yet? Imagine how these five young lads felt, who had just become a rock band called Mott the Hoople. But enthusiasm they had by the bucket load, and record they did. In seven days the new album was down on tape.


Ian Hunter - piano, lead vocals

Mick Ralphs - lead guitar, vocals

Verden Allen - organ

Overend Watts - bass guitar

Buffin - drums

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]