Now then. There are loads of books about advertising. You only need to look in the marketing or advertising section of a bookshop and you'll be faced with a wall of opinion and advice.
There are a few excellent classics that I think are very useful - especially for creative types, but I do wish more advertising and marketing people would read them too. You can see them here.
However, most of the modern stuff is either very functional and process obsessed, or the kind of sociology-lite claptrap peddled by planners when they get bored of fucking up the advertising and want to move on to speaking tours.
But there is a modern book on advertising that is definitely worth a read. I implore all of our kind readers to get hold of a copy. And the bonus is it won't cost you anything. In fact you can download it here:
The Ad Contrarian. Getting beyond the fleeting trends, false goals, and dreadful jargon of contemporary advertising. By Bob Hoffman.
Bob is the chap behind the Ad Contrarian blog, and a man who we share many opinions about advertising with. I don't agree with absolutely everything in the book, but most I most definitely do. One of the things we at Sell! Sell! wholeheartedly believe in is the power of interesting, product-focused advertising to build companies and brands, rather the ridiculous, woolly and self-indulgent 'brand' type advertising that pervades today. It's one of the simple, but strongly held principles that we built our little company on.
There are many great examples out there of famous and successful brands that have built success on product and benefit led advertising -Apple, VW and Innocent just off the top of my head (curiously these are some of the brands cited by people trying to extoll the benefits of 'brand' advertising).
One of the key things about Bob's book is that in an age when advertising has become over-complicated and over-intellectualised, it's normally the over-complicators and the over-intellectualisers that shout the loudest. And write the books. In fact, if you wanted to build a life-size house of bullshit out of 'branding' books, you wouldn't be short of raw material.
To me this is the most important advertising book of the last ten years because it's an almost unique glimpse of simplicity and common sense in modern advertising. Advertising is desperate for more people to stand up against the tide of bullshit that's ruining a business once known for clarity and smart thinking. In this humble ad-man's opinion, everyone involved with the process of commissioning, creating or producing advertising should read this book.
And if you're a young creative (I know a few of you read this), I know the temptation is to just look at creative stuff, and leave the strategy to someone else, but it's really worth your while spending some time with this.