Top Advertising Books Everyone Should Read

There are a slew of “new media” marketing books out there. Before you read how to market on Facebook, build a brand on twitter or make a video go viral, you first need to understand the core values of the marketing and advertising business. I’ve read a truckload of advertising related books but only a few popped in my head when I was asked to write this. I went into my study and began to peruse the shelves and so many memories came flooding back. I’ve learned so much from bits and pieces of these books. As I looked at each I remembered very specific things I learned from each—how they shaped my career and the lessons I still apply today. Now if I only had back half of the books I loaned out over the years (I still know who you are), I’d really be able to put together a great list. But alas, this one is still pretty stellar.

copywriting by design book

“Copywriting by Design”– David Herzbrun

Everything I have been preaching my entire career in compact form. This book is intended as a self-guided tour for the basics of developing copy and ideas for an ad campaign. It’s a hands-on experience. Utilizing a make-believe product, you work through research, creative briefs and creative execution. Quick, fun, accurate read.

Ogilvy on Advertising Book

“Ogilvy on Advertising”– David Ogilvy

#1 Best Seller. Brutally frank and intensely opinionated, David Ogilvy became the most sought-after wizard in the advertising business. If you’re in the ad biz and HAVE NOT read this, shame on you.

Hoopla Book

“Hoopla”– Crispin Porter + Bogusky

The most visionary agency of our time. They made Burger King sizzle with “The King” and the “Subservient Chicken,” launched the Mini Cooper in America, and took on the tobacco industry — all campaigns with a swagger of an agency with big ones. See inside the secret inner workings of this freewheeling, break-the-mold idea factory. If you’re losing your passion for the business, you’ll find it again after this read. Oh, and get the hard back (trust me).

Up the Agency Book

“Up the Agency”– Peter Mayle

“Up the Agency” is a sarcastic love affair with the culture of Madison Avenue. The Mad Men tribal customs and rituals are as wondrous to behold as any social exploration you’ll ever come across. The human beings that live in this ad world are truly eccentric.

From those wonderful folks who brought you Pearl Harbor

“From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War”– Jerry Della Femina

This has Sterling Cooper written all over it—the late nights, the three-martini lunches, boinking on couches, and, of course, the actual work of pitching products. A worldwide bestseller when first published in 1970, this frank, irreverent, and hilarious memoir is a one-of-a-kind cult classic.

How to Write an Inspired Creatie Brief

“How to Write an Inspired Creative Brief”– Howard Ibach

One of the most important documents in the creative process is the creative brief. It gives the creative department its marching orders, telling them where to start digging for great ideas. Filled with examples of powerful and effective creative briefs, and written in a laid-back but very informative way, this is essential reading for everyone in the business.

Hey Whipple Squeeze This

“Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”– Luke Sullivan

Sullivan looks at the history of advertising, from the good to the bad to the ugly. Among the most disparaged campaigns in advertising history, the Mr. Whipple ads for Charmin toilet paper were also wildly successful. Sullivan explores the Whipple phenomenon, examining why bad ads sometimes work, why great ads sometimes fail.

22 Immutable Laws of Branding

“The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding”– Al Ries and Laura Ries

The definitive book on branding, you’ll hear tales about some of the best brands in the world, like Rolex, Volvo, and Heineken. This book proclaims that the only way to stand out in today’s marketplace is to build your product or service into a brand—and provides the step-by-step instructions you need to do so.

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