Favourite Books



Here is a list of the best advertising and business books I’ve read, and why I recommend them.

“CONSUMER REPUBLIC"

Using Brands To Get What You Want, Make Corporations Behave
and Maybe Even Save The World

Written by Bruce Philp. An utterly foundation-shaking argument that consumerism can actually save the planet. How to vote with your wallet. A terrific, thought-provoking read.

"THINK SMALL"



Written by Dominik Imseng. For fans of the famous VW advertising, and the agency behind the campaign, this is maybe the most detailed, and delightful, account of the ad that started the creative revolution on Madison Avenue. Packed with never-before-told stories by the campaign creators, and also the original VW clients. The book is designed just like the ads, with the same layout and typeface. A great read.

“THEN WE SET HIS HAIR ON FIRE”

Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising

Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising” Written by BBDO Creative Chairman Phil Dusenberry. The late, great Phil Dusenberry’s book is all about his time as Chief Creative Officer for BBDO North America. Every story in this book is based around the value of an “insight.” Title refers to the time Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire on that infamous Pepsi commercial Dusenberry was overseeing. (2005)

“GEORGE BE CAREFUL”



Written by George Lois. Great stories from maybe the most wild and colourful (M)admen of the 60s. Including the incident where a client refuses to approve one of his layouts, so Lois climbs out onto the ledge of the client’s office, 40 floors up, and refuses to climb back in until the client okay’s his ad. Which the client eventually did. Hilarious. (1972)

“FROM THOSE WONDERFUL FOLKS WHO BROUGHT YOU PEARL HARBOUR”



Written by Jerry Della Femina. Another of the most creative ad minds of the 70s. Title refers to a slogan he wanted to present to a Japanese electronics client. A dark, yet hilarious look at creative advertising. (1970)

“BILL’S BOOK”



Written by Bob Levenson. A book dedicated to Bill Bernbach, with big, beautiful reproductions of the great DDB ads, and Bill’s philosophy woven throughout. Bernbach was the leader of advertising’s creative revolution, and this book is written by his finest creative director, and a legend in his own right, Bob Levenson. (1987)

“JUICING THE ORANGE”



Written by Pat Fallon and Fred Senn. Great case studies of the best work done by Fallon, one of the most award-winning ad agencies in the world. (2006)

“POSITIONING: THE BATTLE FOR YOUR MIND”



Written by Ries & Trout. The landmark book that defined the concept of “positioning” in advertising strategy. A strategy still used by every agency to this day. (1981)

“A BIG LIFE IN ADVERTISING”



Written by Mary Wells Lawrence. Great ad stories from the most successful woman ever in advertising – who created, among other things, the “I Love New York” campaign. (2002)

“ADLAND: A GLOBAL HISTORY OF ADVERTISING”



Written by Mark Tungate. Simply the best worldwide history of advertising I have ever read. (2007)

“INVENTING DESIRE”



Written by Karen Stabiner. Great book about Chiat/Day, and its two legends, Jay Chiat and Lee Clow. Ad agency for Apple Computers. Among other things, it tells the story of the legendary TV commercial ’1984′ – its near-death – and resurrection to become, what most in our industry consider to be, the best TV commercial of all time. (1993)

“HEY WHIPPLE, SQUEEZE THIS”



Written by Luke Sullivan. A fun and informative book for students of advertising by a renowned Creative Director. (1998)

“PERFECT PITCH”



Written by Jon Steele. The best book I have ever read on pitching new business. Full of actual stories of classic pitches, including the pitch for the London Olympics. (2007)

"HAVE I EVER LIED TO YOU BEFORE”



Written by Jerry Goodis. He was Canada’s Bernbach in the 60s and 70s. Wild, irreverent, and smart as a fox. (1972)

“OGILVY ON ADVERTISING”



Written by David Ogilvy. A must-read by the dean of American advertising. The most articulate adman of the 20th century, and its best essayist. (1983)

“ADVERTISING’S BENEVOLENT DICTATORS”



Written by Bart Cummings. A book chock full of insightful interviews with the men who started all the great ad agencies in Madison Avenue’s big decades of the 40s and 50s. What drove them, how they overcame obstacles, how they dealt with the stress of the industry, how they landed the big accounts that made history – and why most had life expectancies of less than 60 years. (1984)

“REALITY IN ADVERTISING”



Written by Rosser Reeves. A hard-to-find, classic book written by the man who created the “Unique Selling Proposition” (or USP) theory in advertising strategy. Reeves excelled at hard-sell advertising, and the only ad people who loved him were his clients. A major competitor to Ogilvy, they had completely different philosophies, and the ironically, they were also brother-in-laws. (1961)

“BUYING IN: THE SECRET DIALOGUE BETWEEN WHAT WE BUY AND WHO WE ARE”



Written by Rob Walker. A fascinating read that takes a tough look at advertising, and puts forth Rob’s theory of ‘murketing’ – suggesting that the ad industry has adopted an underground method of selling that depends on our complicit embrace of brands. (2008)

“THE KING OF MADISON AVENUE”



Written by Kenneth Roman. An incredible biography of David Ogilvy, the most fascinating advertising man who ever strode down Madison Avenue. I’m an ardent Ogilvy fan, and can’t believe how much I learned about him in this book, written by the ex-CEO of Ogilvy & Mather. (2009)

“CONFESSIONS OF AN ADVERTISING MAN”



Written by David Ogilvy. Written in the early 1960s, it is one of the best how-to books ever written about advertising, and a perennial seller. As relevant then as it is today, Ogilvy never thought much of it, and signed over all the royalties to his only son – who became wealthy as a result of it. Re-released in 2004, five years after Ogilvy’s death. (1963)

“THE UNPUBLISHED DAVID OGILVY”



Edited by Joel Raphaelson, senior Ogilvy executive. On the occasion of his 75th birthday, Ogilvy’s staff put a book together of all Ogilvy’s best memos and speeches. This is a particularly insightful book, because Ogilvy was maybe one of the most gifted leaders when it came to creating a corporate culture. And as his company grew to over 200 offices, he knew the only way he could protect the culture was by constantly communicating with his people. This book is a collection of that philosophy in action. (1986)

“INSIDE STEVE’S BRAIN”



Written by Leander Kahney. An insightful look at Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple, and the greatest marketer of our generation. The book offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes, revealing how Jobs made decisions, how he led how he revelled in innovation, and how he fired people in elevators. (2008)

“ME AND OTHER ADVERTISING GENIUSES”



Written by Charlie Brower. A fascinating and hilarious book written by the ex-president of BBDO, Charlie Brower. Not only does it tell the entire story of legendary ad agency BBDO, Brower also relays searing insights into the advertising business, and the art of keeping and losing clients. His book spans the 1920s to the early 1970s, but its as relevant as ever. He also happens to be one of the wittiest admem who ever roamed Madison Avenue. (1974)

“ADVENTURES IN ADVERTISING”



Written by John Orr Young. A very entertaining read penned by the Young of legendary advertising agency Young & Rubicam. His agency was always one of the most creative on Madison Avenue, and the story of how they grew from a two man shop to a colossal advertising agency is remarkable because they chose a strategy of going to big advertisers and asking for their most troublesome brands. Promising a turnaround, they took those runt products and made them category leaders, thereby securing millions of dollars of business. A great read. (1948)

“DIARY OF AN AD MAN”



Written by James Webb Young. Revered in advertising as one of the best copywriters ever, Young was the creative dynamo of the J. Walter Thompson agency. His insights into copywriting informed many of the giants of the industry. This book is particularly interesting because he wrote it just as the Second World War was breaking out. The book covers the period of June 1942 to December 1943, and the prism of the war makes for a captivating read. I marvelled at his simple observations of life and how they applied to advertising. As well as how important it is to connect with the common man. When I finished it, I made a mental note to re-read it once a year. (1944)

“e – A NOVEL”



Written by Matt Beaumont. The only book of fiction on this list, this is an hilarious story of a British advertising agency pitching for the Coke account. But the genius of the book is that it is written completely in emails. Laugh out loud funny. (2000)

“LEAP. A REVOLUTION IN CREATIVE BUSINESS STRATEGY”



Written by Bob Schmetterer. The former chairman and CEO of ad giant Euro RSCG Worldwide, this book is an informative and interesting collection of great advertising campaign strategies, and the “leap” each one of them represented in the world of business. (2003)

“KINGS OF MADISON AVENUE: THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO MAD MEN”



Written by Jesse McLean. A fascinating episode by episode breakdown of the series, with lots of great advertising history and research as a bonus. (2009)

“DESIGNERS DON’T READ”



Written by Austin Howe. A radical and incredibly insightful book that puts forth the premise that designers should be the new art directors in advertising. A truly original mind, and a dear friend. (2009)

“THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO”



Written by Atul Gawande. A fascinating book written by a Boston surgeon who states that over 150,000 people die from preventable mistakes and infections as a result of surgeries every year. So he did what pilots have done for years – he implemented checklists. Every surgical team had to go through a checklist before an incision was made. Result: Preventable mistakes drop by 80%. (2009)

“THE GREEN MANIFESTO”



Written by John Grant. One of the best books I’ve read on Green Marketing. Grant is an adman who takes a sober and very enlightening look at what it takes to be authentic when it comes to Green Marketing. A must-read for all companies who want to go green in their communications. (2008)


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