5 essential books for anyone working in advertising or marketing

Ever heard the phrase “Standing on the shoulders of giants”? It’s not just the title of a mediocre Oasis album. It’s a phrase that encapsulates the belief that “using the understanding gained by major thinkers who have gone before you enables you to make intellectual progress.”

If you were studying Law, you look back on case histories to learn from. If you were studying psychology you look back on the works of Freud and Bernays. But, for many, the same isn’t true in the world of advertising. Which is strange when you consider there are some fantastic reads out there that will not only help you ensure marketing success but will also change the way you think, look at the world and enable you to become a better marketer and advertising creative.

So let’s get into this list shall we. They’re in no particular order.

Ogilvy on Advertising

There was a time in advertising that you couldn’t get a job in any decent agency unless you had read this book. The term ‘required reading’ should be on the cover of this beauty and once you’ve read it we guarantee it will be the number one book you recommend people read who want to work in advertising and marketing.

David Ogilvy was a genius and the founder of Ogilvy & Mather – still one of the best advertising agencies out there. Why? Because they still live by this book. To sum up the book, it’s a guide which explains how to create advertising that works, how to run an agency, how to write successful copy, and what the future holds for the advertising industry. Coupled together with ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’ then you have two utterly compelling reads that will give you a solid foundation for success in this industry either as an account handler, creative or working client side as well as agency side.

Hey Whipple Squeeze This

Basically, if you ever wanted a guide to create great adverts and campaigns, this is it. From learning to tell brand stories to writing a compelling advert to understanding the difference between brand and value propositions and why such things as authenticity, simplicity and storytelling are important. It’s all here in the pages of this book. A book that we guarantee will be well thumbed and referred to and possibly lent out for years and years to come. BTW, don’t lend it out, you’ll never get it back.

The Choice Factory

This is kinda like a ‘York Notes’ version of Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders and updated for the modern age. Behavioural Science has recently been the buzz word in advertising thanks to David Cameron’s Nudge Unit and the resulting impact that this area of psychology has had on advertising.

What this book does really well is give you a great introduction to the reasons why we do things. From choosing a chocolate bar to making a career move. It explores how our behaviour is shaped by psychological shortcuts and relates these back to advertising campaigns so you can see the behavioural biases in action. Trust us, once you’ve read this, you’ll never look at an advert in the same way again and you’ll be dipping into this book for many years to come for both creating ideas and also selling ideas.

The Copy Book

This one has been around for decades but has grown in content and then shrunk in size and we have to say that you simply have to own this book. It’s like a reference source for bloody great adverts and with each set of Ads you get an introduction to them from the creative behind them and insights into how they write and concept. I mean the first collection of adverts and bits of advice are from David Abbott. That alone should have you whizzing over to Amazon to buy this book NOW.

Anything written by Dave Trott

Ok we know this is a cop-out but Dave Trott’s books are just brilliant. If you wanted to nail us on just one, then Predatory Thinking is great but so is Creative Mischief. What makes them so brilliant is Trott’s simplistic writing style that seems to be copied by lots of copywriters at the moment.

So what’s in the books? Well, they’re little stories about thinking different, being creative and how to give yourself a competitive edge. They’re the kind of book you can easily pick up and put down and literally each little story is thoroughly enjoyable and gives real ‘Aha!’ moment in your head.

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