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No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies [Hardcover]

Naomi Klein
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 7 1999
There's a bad mood rising against the corporate brands. No Logo is the warning on the label.

Once a poster boy for the new economy, Bill Gates has become global whipping boy. Nike's swoosh - the marketing success of the nineties - is now equated with sweatshop labour, and teenage MacDonald's workers are joining the Teamsters. What is going on? No Logo, an incisive and insightful report from the frontlines of mounting backlash against multinational corporations, explains why some of the most revered brands in the world are finding themselves on the wrong end of a bottle of spray paint, a computer hack, or an international anti-corporate campaign.

No Logo uncovers a betrayal of the central promises of the information age: choice, interactivity, and increased freedom. And as job security disappears, the respectful reverence which corporations enjoyed as engines of the economy is also dissipating - as is their protection from worker and citizen rage.

Equal parts cultural analysis, political manifesto, mall-rat memoir, and journalistic exposé, No Logo is the first book to put the new resistance into pop-historical and clear economic perspective. Naomi Klein tells a story of rebellion and self-determination in the face of our new branded world.

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We live in an era where image is nearly everything, where the proliferation of brand-name culture has created, to take one hyperbolic example from Naomi Klein's No Logo, "walking, talking, life-sized Tommy [Hilfiger] dolls, mummified in fully branded Tommy worlds." Brand identities are even flourishing online, she notes--and for some retailers, perhaps best of all online: "Liberated from the real-world burdens of stores and product manufacturing, these brands are free to soar, less as the disseminators of goods or services than as collective hallucinations."

In No Logo, Klein patiently demonstrates, step by step, how brands have become ubiquitous, not just in media and on the street but increasingly in the schools as well. (The controversy over advertiser-sponsored Channel One may be old hat, but many readers will be surprised to learn about ads in school lavatories and exclusive concessions in school cafeterias.) The global companies claim to support diversity, but their version of "corporate multiculturalism" is merely intended to create more buying options for consumers. When Klein talks about how easy it is for retailers like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster to "censor" the contents of videotapes and albums, she also considers the role corporate conglomeration plays in the process. How much would one expect Paramount Pictures, for example, to protest against Blockbuster's policies, given that they're both divisions of Viacom?

Klein also looks at the workers who keep these companies running, most of whom never share in any of the great rewards. The president of Borders, when asked whether the bookstore chain could pay its clerks a "living wage," wrote that "while the concept is romantically appealing, it ignores the practicalities and realities of our business environment." Those clerks should probably just be grateful they're not stuck in an Asian sweatshop, making pennies an hour to produce Nike sneakers or other must-have fashion items. Klein also discusses at some length the tactic of hiring "permatemps" who can do most of the work and receive few, if any, benefits like health care, paid vacations, or stock options. While many workers are glad to be part of the "Free Agent Nation," observers note that, particularly in the high-tech industry, such policies make it increasingly difficult to organize workers and advocate for change.

But resistance is growing, and the backlash against the brands has set in. Street-level education programs have taught kids in the inner cities, for example, not only about Nike's abusive labor practices but about the astronomical markup in their prices. Boycotts have commenced: as one urban teen put it, "Nike, we made you. We can break you." But there's more to the revolution, as Klein optimistically recounts: "Ethical shareholders, culture jammers, street reclaimers, McUnion organizers, human-rights hacktivists, school-logo fighters and Internet corporate watchdogs are at the early stages of demanding a citizen-centered alternative to the international rule of the brands ... as global, and as capable of coordinated action, as the multinational corporations it seeks to subvert." No Logo is a comprehensive account of what the global economy has wrought and the actions taking place to thwart it. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In the global economy, all the world's a marketing opportunity. From this elemental premise, freelance journalist and Toronto Star columnist Klein methodically builds an angry and funny case against branding in general and several large North American companies in particular, notably Gap, Microsoft and Starbucks. Looking around her, Klein finds that the breathless promise of the information ageAthat it would be a time of consumer choice and interactive communicationAhas not materialized. Instead, huge corporations that present themselves as lifestyle purveyors rather than mere product manufacturers dominate the airwaves, physical space and cyberspace. Worse, Klein argues, these companies have harmed not just the culture but also workersAand not just in the Third World but also in the U.S., where companies rely on temps because they'd rather invest in marketing than in labor. In the latter sections, Klein describes a growing backlash embodied by the guerrilla group Reclaim the Streets, which turns busy intersections into spaces for picnics and political protest. Her tour of the branded world is rife with many perverse examples of how corporate names penetrate all aspects of life (who knew there was a K-Mart Chair of Marketing at Wayne State University?). Mixing an activist's passion with sophisticated cultural commentary, Klein delivers some elegant formulations: "Free speech is meaningless if the commercial cacophony has risen to the point where no one can hear you." Charts and graphs not seen by PW. Agent, Westwood Creative Artists. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of MNC Domination May 3 2001
By Jameel
Whether you're a high schooler just taking interest in the plight of today's Multinational Corporations, or a member of the black-bloc fighting the front lines in Quebec City, this book is a must read. Klein takes aim at the brand phenomenon by dividing her book into four effective parts; NO SPACE, NO CHOICE, NO JOBS, and NO LOGO, going deep into the brief, yet storied history of the brand phenomenon, telling us why "superbrand" corporations dominate our economy today. Klein has basically taken everything you need to know about the anti-corporate movement, sprinkled it with some personal experience and great writing style, and has jammed it into one book that needs to be read by anyone even slightly concerned with the growing dominance of today's Multinational Corporations. While the book is quite lengthy and tends to get quite extensive in terms of detail, her anecdotal use is magnificent. The use of superbrand corporations in those anecdotes, such as McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Nike will keep the average reader interested, instead of the theory x/theory y business which I tend to find quite tedious to read. It will be well worth it to invest your time in reading this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you see the world differently Feb. 6 2002
No Logo is a book well worth reading no matter what your political persuasion. It will make you aware, or more aware, of just how pervasive the "branding" of the world has become. Naomi Klein's book is well-researched, well-organized and well-written. It deals with some quite complicated material, such as the interaction between various social and economic forces, while always remaining very readable and never lapsing into simplistic ideological rhetoric or academic-style jargon. No Logo documents the history of the brand in America, then goes on to explore various ways people have resisted the corporate domination of modern life. It's difficult to dispute that these are important issues. Finding a solution, however, is not such a simple matter. Klein is sophisticated enough to be skeptical of the very kind of activism she covers in No Logo. For example, she points out how boycotts of high profile companies such as Nike often benefits other equally guilty (of exploiting its Third World labor force) but lower profile companies. One question that No Logo doesn't directly tackle is whether significant curtailment of corporate power would really benefit people in the Third World. It's likely, for example, that if companies were forced to improve working conditions, they'd simply hire fewer workers. It's a complex situation, and a kind of Catch-22 for the world's poor, including those in affluent nations stuck in "McJobs". However, we can't fault Naomi Klein for not solving such a complex problem. I highly recommend No Logo as a thorough study of modern capitalism's impact on our culture. It also provides insight into a growing protest movement, one this book has certainly helped along. Most of all this book, whether you agree with all of it or not, brilliantly synthesizes many complex issues and reveals the underlying forces that connect them. It's a significant contribution to modern social theory.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
WHile I worried that this was a simple ideological diatribe, I was very happily surprized at the intelligence and substance of Klein's book. It is a tough, well-reasoned manifesto for the anti-consumerism left of "Gen X." If you are wondering what was driving many of those protesters at the WTO and other summit meetings - most notoriously Seattle in late 1999 - then this book is the best place I know. It is part cultural critique, part economics and social policy, and partly a call to arms. Reading it has helped me to make sense of so much that I thought was simple, nihilistic anarchism. I was humbled to learn that there is far far more behind the movement than I had granted it.
In a nutshell, Klein argues that the "superbrands" - the huge corporations such as Disney and Nike - are progressively taking over virtually all "public spaces," including school curricula, neighborhoods, and all-encompassing infotainment malls like Virgin Megastores. THey are doing this in an attempt enter our minds as consumers in the most intimate ways, which Klein and others find unbearably intrusive. Moreover, she argues, as they subcontract overseas, the superbrands are leaving first-world workers behind while they exploit those in the developing world under horible conditions. It all adds up, she asserts, into a kind of emerging global worker solidarity that is developing new means (via internet exposes, protest campaigns, etc.) to push the superbrands to adopt more just policies and practices.
What was so amazing and useful for me, as a business writer looking at the same issues, is that Klein so often hones in on the underside of what I think are good and effective business practices: the development of brand values, globalisation of the production/value chain to lower prices, and the like.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economic feudalism April 18 2002
This is a powerful and exceptionally well researched book which documents the economics of globalisation in frightening detail. The globalisation equation goes like this: first, sack as many of your US employees as possible, and certainly all of your employees which actually manufacture anything your company sells. Second, contract out your manufacturing to developing countries while putting political and economic pressure on the governments of those countries to keep the wages at below what anyone could possible live on. Your goods will be made in sweatshops under dangerous and sub-human conditions and each worker will cost you only cents an hour. Contracting out the manufacturing also conveniently distances you from the human rights violations involved. Third, import your goods back to the US and sell them for the same price or higher than you used to when they were made by Americans, but now cream in the 100's of percent higher profit margins. Fourth, pay yourself an annual bonus for increasing profits which is so large that it could support all, or most, of your sweatshop workers (in good conditions) for a decade or more of their lives. Fifth, couch your company's globalisation strategies in terms of increased efficiency and job provision in poor countries - perpetuate the myth that gobalisation is good for everyone. For an example of this equation: that "family values" company Disney pays its CEO $9,783 an hour, while their Haitian manufacturing workers get 28c a hour - at such a rate it would take a worker 16.8 years to earn the CEOs hourly income. In addition the CEO exercised $181 million of his stock options in 1996, which is enough to take care of his 19,000 Haitian workers and their families for 14 years! Welcome to the world of economic feudalism.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely as seminal as everyone says.
Read this, and be better for it.
Published 15 days ago by DBeatty
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent summary of the people who suffer so we can buy cheap...
I found myself reading No Log on the subway ride home after a trip to the shopping mall where I spent about $70 on clothing and accessories & sort of wondered about how cheap it... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nicole Chardenet
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
This book is excellent in every aspect. Informative, eye opening and even if you are not involvefd in Advertising it is a good read just for the education of media overall.
Published 11 months ago by Laura Colwell
3.0 out of 5 stars No Logo but Mine
erm...(to quote Rorschach)...An author's name is their brand, their logo. This is why the size of the author's name grows and the size of the title shrinks as an author becomes... Read more
Published on June 6 2011 by Rumplepuff
1.0 out of 5 stars I struggled through 61 pages before abandoning it !
I expected to learn about the rise of branding and logo placement etc but was sadly disappointed. Klein's writing style is far too wordy, full of meaningless padding. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2006 by Alan Chard
1.0 out of 5 stars I went for radical and found ridiculous
I like many people am frustrated with the times we live in and i started reading this book hoping for some answers/solutions/new ideas, and i didn't get much of anything. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2005 by "littlenub"
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this!
It was really well organized and was a huge eye-opener for me. Some parts were really technical but still gave me a new perspective about corporations.
Published on Aug. 4 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A little more than I needed to know
You definetly get your money's worth. Starts well and keeps you interested for about 350 pages, At that point you wish it was over, unfortunately it continues to limp on for... Read more
Published on April 20 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and interesting read...
Naomi Klein has successfully documented the growing concern about consumerism in North America and around the world. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by C. Horgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and Sobering
No Logo is a sobering report on the current state of globalization and it's potential future impact. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by Jeff Strong
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