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10 Advertising Books You Absolutely Must Read

Essential Books on Advertising That Everyone Should Own

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Many different people will give you reading lists when you're either studying advertising, or are a professional practicing the craft. There are tens of thousands of books on the subject, a new one is released every day. But there are some that have stood the test of time, and remain required reading. If you're in the communication business, be it advertising, marketing, public relations, design or anything else, these books should have a permanent place in your library.

1. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan

Hey Whipple Squeeze This

Very few advertising books are as easy and enjoyable to read. Written by a modern master of the advertising craft, it contains a wealth of information that everyone should know. If you're just getting into the business, you'll find a step-by-step guide to every aspect of advertising. If you've been around for decades, you'll not only laugh (and cry) throughout the book, but will still pick up tips and reminders that continue to make you a better creative professional. If you're stuck on a desert island with only one advertising book to read, this would be the one. It's exceptional.

2. Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy On Advertising

David Ogilvy was an advertising legend. His legacy lives on through the many branches of the Ogilvy network, and his books. Ogilvy On Advertising is considered an advertising bible, filled with indispensible knowledge and candid thoughts from a man who once said "it isn't creative unless it sells." Although decades old now, the principles within the book are as relevant as ever, and you're doing yourself a severe injustice if you have not read it from cover to cover.

3. From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor by Jerry Della Femina

Pearl Harbor Jerry Della Femina
Possibly the longest title ever written for an advertising book, and yet it doesn't make the information inside any less punchy. For people addicted to the life and work portrayed in Mad Men, this is the book for you. A vivid and no-holds-barred memoir of Madison Avenue advertising in the 60's, it's considered a cult classic, but should be right there on your shelf next to Ogilvy's book.

4. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Purple Cow

What if you see a black and white cow after only ever seeing brown cows? It stands out. But what happens when you keep seeing more and more black and white cows? What stands out then? It would take a purple cow. That's the basic premise of Godin's seminal book on transforming your business, and your advertising, into something remarkable. Stand out, be amazing, or blend in and go unnoticed.

5. Truth, Lies & Advertising: The Art of Account Planning by Jon Steel

Truth, Lies & Advertising

Great account planning ensures that advertising connects with the customers. But you don't need to be an account planner to garner a world of savvy information from this book. Jay Chiat, founder of Chiat\Day, calls it “The best new-business tool ever invented." Memorable, and highly successful, campaigns like “Got Milk?" and "Think Different" started with smart account planning. A book that’s a must-read for everyone in your advertising agency, not just the account department. 

6. Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Positioning

We see thousands of advertising messages every day. We probably remember just a handful. Being part of that handful is what this book is all about. How to position your product or service, and therefore, how to market it, is the foundation of a successful advertising and marketing campaign. How do you become an industry leader? How do you take advantage of competitor weaknesses? You'll find out

7. How to Write an Inspired Creative Brief by Howard Ibach

Write Creative Brief

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 communications industry.  

8. A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

Technique for Producing Ideas

The foreword by Bill Bernbach, one of the greatest advertising professionals who ever lived, should be enough to let you know that this is a gem. And although published in 1965 (from a presentation first delivered in 1939) it's timeless advice to help copywriters, art directors, designers and planners jump-start their creative juices. If (or when) you hit a creative wall, this book will help you hammer it down. 

9. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step by Edward de Bono

How does creativity work? How do you get results from it? How do you think differently, and more efficiently and effectively? Edward de Bono's classic book explains it all. Anyone who thinks for a living should read this book, and other works by the same author. It's easy to copy great ideas, but to know how to have them, and how to develop them, that's pure gold.   

10. Caffeine for the Creative Mind by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield

Caffeine for the Creative Mind

The only truly practical workbook in the top 10, this book has enough exercises in it to give your mental muscles an extreme workout every day. Try them all once, then try them again. Find different solutions to the same problems (something advertising is all about) or use the exercises to limber-up before tackling a work-related task. It's also a great way to stay sharp when you have that rare down-time. 

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