No preamble required…
Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign by Randall Rosenburg
This is almost a one-sitting read…but don’t rush it. The author puts you in every room of the ad agency and the car company client. It brilliantly covers Subaru’s problematic 1991-1993 effort to make hip its image by engaging Wieden+Kennedy. That case study is fascinating enough but the book is a platform to profile changes whacking the advertising industry (changes are always whacking the advertising industry). Check out Rosenburg’s career since this 1995 effort.
The book provides amazing reminders of how things once were, “Advertising agencies used to serve as their clients’ eyes and ears in the marketplace. Was there a need for a new product? Was a service now more popular in the suburbs than the cities? Were more men using a household cleanser than women? The ad agency’s research department was usually the first, and often the only, source for such information.” You can see why brands took that intel in-house. So much more in this book. Get it.
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
It is one of those books that tells you that, even on its worst day, your office was an interesting place to be, if you looked for it, “We had the great good fortune and shortcomings of character that marked every generation that had never seen war.” I still remember reading this book when it first came out, on my condo balcony one weekend. It started over coffee and I finished it with scotch.
Check out this wonderfully astute, mundane wonderment, “We loved killing time and had perfected several ways of doing so. We wandered the hallways carrying papers that indicated some mission of business when in reality we were in search of free candy.” Oh yeah, it’s about advertising too.