Lúc chập chững bước vào ngành quảng cáo, chắc cũng hơn 5 năm rồi, mình đã hỏi sếp đọc gì hay hay, tốt tốt. Ở Việt Nam thời ấy quảng cáo và copywriting còn mới mẻ lắm, mà cũng chẳng có trường lớp đào tạo nào cả. Sếp bảo cuốn hay nhất là “Hey Whipple, squeeze this!” của tác giả Luke Sullivan.
Công nhận cuốn này hay! Mình nghĩ nó tốt cho bất cứ ai trong ngành quảng cáo và cả cho khách hàng. Bác này viết hài hài, dễ chịu.
Sau 5 năm, mình hỏi thầy đọc gì hay hay, tốt tốt. Thầy cũng trả lời y chang sếp ngày xưa.
Giờ cuốn này đã được tái bản lần 3 (4th edition), mà bìa cũng đẹp hơn nhiều. Tính ra sách trong ngành quảng cáo không nhiều, mà bao năm rồi sách hay cũng chỉ đếm trên đầu ngón tay.
Đọc xong sách, mình nghĩ mai mốt gặp được bác Luke Sullivan thì hay biết mấy. Đi học nghe thầy bảo đã từng làm việc chung với bác, bác ấy là copywriter tài năng. Thế thì lại càng mong gặp bác. Nhưng có vẻ cơ hội chẳng đến nên mạo muội viết email thăm hỏi đôi lời.
Bác ấy dễ mến, gửi cho một đống sách cần đọc. Mình viết ra để có ai cần thì tìm hiểu.
Which doctor would you want to have perform your next surgery? The doctor who has one introductory biology textbook from college collecting dust on the shelf behind his desk? Or the doctor whose office is a library of the latest medical texts and his desk is buried under the last four years worth of the New England Journal of Medicine?
I’m serious. Which doctor do you want standing over you with a scalpel? Well, in terms of expertise, is what we do here in advertising any different? If we propose to sell ourselves as experts to our clients, we actually have to be experts.
I encourage you to read. And learn. And learn a lot. There is no shortcut to being the best. No easy way around it. You have to know your stuff and know it cold.
The short list of books and online resources I’ve included here is only the beginning. They happen to be my favorites in the creative area. But there are many other disciplines you should be studying—marketing, branding, interactive—all of which will be relevant to your craft.
There is no shortcut. This is how we learn it. Bit by bit.
Remember: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
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Read every old One Show and Communication Arts you can get your hands on. Read every British Design & Art Direction annual you can find.
Become a student of advertising history. On the subject of history, I’ll list these titles: When Advertising Tried Harder, by Larry Dubrow; Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads? by David Abbott; From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor, by Jerry Della Femina; Inside Collett Dickenson Pearce, by Ritchie and Salmon; A Book About The Classic Avis Advertising Campaign of the 60s, by Ericksson and Holmgren; Helmut Krone. The Book, by Clive Challis; and also Advertising Today, by Warren Berger.
Then there’s Warren Berger’s other book, Hoopla: A book about Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Expensive, but a good look inside that agency.
Advertising: Concept and Copy, by George Felton, is a wonderful textbook on the craft. Excellent, detailed advice on how to think, how to write. Good stuff. Another great title from a good ad professor is The Advertising Concept Book, by Pete Barry.
The Advertising Concept Book, by Pete Barry. To hammer home the point that idea comes before execution, every piece of advertising in Barry’s book is a pencil sketch.
The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World, by Rich Mathieson. This is probably the best book out there right now on understanding the new digital marketing space.
Engage! by Brian Solis. I met him at SxSW Interactive where I discovered both author and book. Solis does a great job of explaining social media, with good examples and best practices.
Cutting Edge Advertising, by Jim Aitchison, is one of the better books out there on how to write a decent print ad.
Ernie Schenck is the author of The Houdini Solution: Put Creativity and Innovation to Work by Thinking Inside the Box. The smaller your budgets, the more you probably need this book.
Creative Advertising: Ideas and Techniques from the World’s Best Campaigns, by Mario Pricken. This hard-to-find and kind of expensive book is very good. Great ideas on getting great ideas. Lots of cool ads in it, too.
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd edition. A great primer on user experience. Written in English, not geek, the wonderful book helps you understand the ideas behind information architecture and user experience design.
e, by Matt Beaumont, is a novel of life inside an agency told entirely in e- mails. It is hilarious.
Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning, by Jon Steel, is the single best book on how smart brand planning adds value to the whole creative process. Steel is also the author of Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business. He’s a joy to read and so smart.
Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders, by Adam Morgan. Such a brilliant read. The title pretty much explains what this book is about: how to outsmart the competition when you can’t outspend them.
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual, byChristopher Locke and company wrote the book on social media long before social media even existed.
Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style is required reading for anyone who holds a pencil anywhere near paper.
If you’re just trying to break into the business, I recommend Vonk and Kestin’s Pick Me: Breaking into Advertising and Staying There. Then there’s Breaking In: Over 100 Advertising Insiders Reveal How to Build a Portfolio that will Get You Noticed, by William Burks Spencer. It features interviews of creative directors and what they look for in a book. A little older, but still very helpful, is Maxine Paetro’s How to Put Your Book Together and Get a Job in Advertising. (Yes, that Maxine Paetro, the mega-best-seller lady.)
And, if you can get them to, have your client read Dick Wasserman’s wonderful That’s Our New Ad Campaign? It’s out of print, but if you find one, get it. It’s great.
Also, next time you’re in Czestochowa or Gdansk, pick up a copy of the excellent Jak Robic Switene Reklamy. And for you readers in Constantinople, I highly recommend the delightful Satan Reklam Yaratmak. (Okay, I’m kiddin’. They’re just translations of this book.)
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