Diego Lafuente’s personal blog

April 27, 2004

13'99 euros

I have received more gifts for this Sant Jordi. This time, I was given a book that truly amazed me. Perhaps some of you have bought it (sorry for using this personal pronoun), as about 400,000 copies of this book have been sold. Written by Frédéric Beigbeder, an advertising creative; successful during his career; who one day decided to write this book called 13'99 euros and was fired from one of the most important advertising agencies.

The book is a denunciation and warning about this whole advertising world, it is worth noting that all the names were changed, there is a part that says: The names haven been changed to protect the guilty. Under the name Octave Parango, it tells us how an advertising creative, a winner, is part of those who decide what the public will desire tomorrow: a copywriter is the author of aphorisms that sell. But, disgusted by that industry and its manipulations, he decides to write a book in which he will denounce the intricacies of advertising, in order to get fired from the powerful agency where he works. This is the starting point of 13'99 euros.

A cruel novel, from the first 5 lines, insolent and a plea against consumer manipulation. Here is the first paragraph, translated from Catalan, by way of a quote:

My name is Octave and I wear APC clothes. I am an advertising man, that is, I pollute the universe. I am the one who sells you crap. Who makes you dream of those things you'll never have. Sky eternally blue, girls who are never ugly, a happiness perfect, retouched with Photoshop. Glossy images, catchy music. When, through sheer saving, you manage to buy the car of your dreams, the one I launched in my latest campaign, I will have already made sure it is out of fashion. I am three seasons ahead of you, and I always manage to make you feel frustrated. Glamour is the country you can never reach. I drug you with novelty, and the advantage of novelty is that it is never new for very long. There is always a new novelty to make the previous one age. Making you drool, that is my vocation. In my profession, nobody wants your happiness, because happy people do not consume.

As you can see, the language is quite aggressive, but also comedic, I must say, I find it pleasant to read, so much so that I am going to put aside La Casa del Alfabeto to read its 269 pages.

Has anyone read this book already? I recommend it.