Recently, one of my MBA students at the University of San Francisco asked me what the "must-read" books for any marketing/advertising major are. He wanted to begin building a library of work-related classics. The Great Books of Durham, he called them! Wow! What a question!
As a guy who reads five to seven books a week, so many good ones come to mind. But when I began to really think about it, there are a few that stand out from the others. Some are classics, some are short; some are academic in nature, some are memorable because they get you to think deeply about this business.
So, modestly, here are my book-reading suggestions, with asterisks (**) next to the five I consider "must-reads." I'm sure you have your own favorites you would want to see on this list and I'm just as sure that the list will change a year from now. But all of these are dog-eared books in my advertising/marketing collection, which is pretty extensive. I'd love to get your thoughts and suggestions as well! This is only a reading list, and paraphrasing David Ogilvy, "advertising is a great field; anything can prepare you for it."
The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLluhan. This is one of the classics and most might quote from it, but have never read it. It's so basic and so timeless, and if you're in your business getting a paycheck, read this!
**The Art of Advertising and What's the Big Idea? Both are by George Lois (Abrams), the man who brings us the thinking behind the BIG IDEA. This book got me excited to be in this business, and the Art book is about big visual ideas.
Beyond Disruption: Changing the Rules in the Marketplace by Jean-Marie Dru (Adweek). A total page turner from beginning to end, this book gets you a bit uncomfortable in your thinking.
The Book of Gossage by Howard Gossage (The Copy Workshop). A San Francisco treat! Get a good bottle of Krug and sit back with this and smile!
Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts. I read this last year and it's in my list because Roberts gets you to think about clients and client treatment.
Building Brand Identity by Lynn Upshaw (Wiley). Upshaw is a brand manager who gives you insights and strong academic thinking: she "gets it!"
**Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace by Lewis, Kline,Thally & Botterill. This book gives you a perspective on consumer behavior and how messaging and media drive purchase.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cralladini (Quinn). This is an academic treatise that is about the importance of persuasion.
Creative Leaps: 10 Lessons in Effective Advertising by Michael Newman (Wiley). This is a strong treatise that goes from creative 101 to a PhD in creativity.
The Advertised Mind by Erik DuPlessis (Kogan Page). This is a strong academic book that gets into the mental insights of customers and how to probe and induce buying behavior.
Ogilvy on Advertising; David Ogilvy, an Autobiography; and The Unpublished David Ogilvy. These books collectively make up one of the best trios of books, which provide classic thinking from the best man in the business. The books are so timeless, and each year I re-read parts of them and find the content is all still relevant!
And Now a Few words From Me by Bob Garfield (McGraw-Hill). A critical view from one of the people I so respect, this tome gives you some inner perspective on advertising creativity; and Garfield's wit kills me!
5 Giants of Advertising by Phillippe Lurisi (Assouline). This is a strong coffee-table book that profiles the five giants in this business: how they work, their thinking, and how they continue to help us grow in this business!
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