In my last post I started compiling a list of required reading for anyone working in advertising or marketing communication.
Since then I’ve had chance to read another book I would definitely add to the list:
The Anatomy of Humbug: How to Think Differently About Advertising by Paul Feldwick.
In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that for anyone just starting out in the industry this may even be the best place to begin, given that it’s essentially a book about books about advertising. Meta.
Firstly, it’s described as a ‘wonderfully sane book’ by Jeremy Bullmore, and frankly any book for which Jeremy Bullmore is prepared to write the foreword has got to be pretty good.
But more interestingly, as Feldwick asserts from the outset, it’s not a book about ‘how advertising works’; it’s a book about ‘how people think – or assume – advertising works.
So in one very short, enjoyable and easily readable text we get not only a summary of all the key theories of how and why advertising works, but also an explanation of how those theories were developed and popularised. (Spoiler alert: the evidence behind a lot of the theories we now accept as fact was often built on the flimsiest of evidence to suit the needs of the proponent).
If you’re anything like me you’ll come away realising you know even less than you thought you did, but in a good way. Definitely recommended.
Another book I missed off the original reading list that merits inclusion is:
The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You by Eli Pariser.
Written in 2011, Pariser’s view of the computer as a one-way mirror that reflects your interests and reinforces your prejudices is arguably even more apposite today as we move towards ever greater degrees of personalisation and algorithmically generated content.
Following my original post I also received a couple of other interesting recommendations:
Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic by JohnHegarty
Where the Suckers Moon: the Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign by Randall Rothenberg
I haven’t actually read either of these myself yet so I don’t know if they’re any good (who is that Hegarty fella anyway?!), but they were recommended by @yazac and @kitchen_sian, both of whom are lovely, smart people, so I’m sure they’re well worth a look.