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Reading List

HUGE Creative Reflects on Life on Mars

Not to be outdone by new colleague Jon Jackson, who broke up with L.A. via billboard a few months back, HUGE creative director Andrew Kessler is pushing his own side project of sorts which is a book called Martian Summer, a personal account of his 90 days in mission control with the 130 NASA scientists and engineers of The Phoenix Mars expedition. Kessler was the first outsider granted access to Phoenix’s fortress of solitude for such an event and spent the summer of 2008 watching as robots were sent to the Red Planet to dig up soil, take 3-D pics and much more.

HUGE has gotten behind the project, natch, creating a site and a series of promos in recent weeks to promote Kessler’s chronicle, which contain exclusive footage from NASA (example above) and behind-the-scenes looks into mission control. Watch another clip after the jump. Martian Summer hits shelves on April 15.

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Mediabistro Course

Copywriting: Creative Ad Writing

Copywriting: Creative Ad WritingWork with a freelance copywriter to build your advertising portfolio and land more copywriting jobs! Starting January 12, Kim Taylor will teach you how to make a complete ad using graphics and photos, write strong headlines and body copy for various advertising media, work from a creative brief, and jumpstart your ad portfolio. Register now!

Q & A With John Gerzema, Chief Insights Officer Young & Rubicam


John Gerzema is the Chief Insights Officer for Young & Rubicam and he is also the co-author of top selling business book, The Brand Bubble. He was kind enough to explain his theory behind the misevaluation of brands, why McDonald’s makes a good study and why agencies need to get in on the game.

1. In your book, you assert that despite rising valuations, that WSJ has overvalued brands. How can those playing the stock market determine who is actually worth their stock price? Is there an at home way to sort out the bloated brands from the properly evaluated?

“The brand bubble represents the growing disparity in the value that business and consumers apportion to brands. We found the multiples that markets place on brand valuations overstate actual consumer sentiment. In essence, Wall Street thinks brands are worth more than the consumers who buy them.

We reached this conclusion through extensive analysis, but in our book we detail an easy method that anyone can use to assess their brand’s value. First we want to understand if the brand has what we call energized differentiation – the consumer perception of motion, difference and direction. We measure this through BrandAsset Valuator, which strongly correlates to a brand’s pricing power, loyalty and contribution to financial return (e.g. The brand value is delivering, if not exceeding its expectations set by market valuations). To get people started, we’ve opened up our database for free on our website,”

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Reading List: The King Of Madison Avenue


Hmm… didn’t CNN Money tell me not too long ago that the King of Advertising was Irwin Gottlieb, CEO of media-buying shop GroupM? Yeah. No. I’m going to go with the new book by Kenneth Roman’s book and say that, David Mackenzie Ogilvy was, is and will be the future King for sometime to come.

The book is a proper biography that covers young David’s short time at Oxford to his work in a Paris restaurant to the heady times spent extolling his staff on the virtues of creativity, but the “the slippery surface of irrelevant brilliance.” Oh dear. Plenty of shops need to pay attention to that little bit of advice.

If you’re going to read a book on the plane, this is it. It would also make a nice gift for your boss – impersonal, but interesting as hell.

More: Reading List: Numerati: What’s Your Number?

Reading List: Stat-Spotting


Joel Best is the author of Stat-Spotting, which maybe a must read for all planners in the business.

Life moves pretty fast and the data we generate in this hyper-connected age moves even faster. That’s especially true in the field of advertising where you have Faith Popcorn, Iconoculure, Open Mind, and a myriad of other shops churning out stats. Most people are well aware that numbers can be shaky stuff in this age of “professional” consumer groupers and an internet age that encourages a game of whisper down the gigabyte.

So, um… what about all these numbers? How do you better interpret the numbers on which you are going to base a multi-million dollar campaign? How do you tell whether the statistic in that Washington Post article is fact or fiction? Does a young person commit suicide every thirteen minutes in the United States? Is methamphetamine our number one drug problem today? Best’s book takes these numbers to task. “All too often, even the most respected publications present numbers that are miscalculated, misinterpreted, hyped, or simply misleading.”

It’s a nice fast read. If you can’t be bothered to purchase the book, Best sat for an interesting interview this morning with WNYC’s Leonard Lopate. Listen to it here.

More: How To Get Your Very Own Advertising Book Deal

How To Get Your Very Own Advertising Book Deal


There are a slew of people in the advertising business who swear they have the next Tipping Point beneath their belt. And, as the market trends down into the dumps, many laid off mad men and women are thinking that now is a good time to pen that book about the business. Have you got the right stuff? Is there even room for yet another advertising and marketing book in the market? What exactly are book agents looking for these days?

We decided to ask one. Jud Laghi is one of the agents at well known agency, LJK Literary Management. He has represented both non-fiction and fiction titles, including the bestsellers Brainiac by Ken Jennings and The Hipster Handbook by Robert Lanham. His clients include journalists from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, This American Life and many more.

There are a million advertising books on the market. Do you think the market can support more?

“Yes-there’s still plenty of room in the market for books that crossover ad and marketing concepts in ways that people outside the industry can relate to. The average person now has the ability to be heard on a scale that was once reserved for established personalities and companies. Writers with a background in advertising and marketing have a unique insight on that model, and how to apply it on various scales.”

Are there any specific types of advertising and marketing books that you are currently looking for?

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Reading List: Mad Women Get A Shout Out And Wow! Get Paid Less (Still)


Legendary ad man Jerry Della Femina has given women in the business their due this morning. His piece in Forbes begins with his memory of a 1975 pitch for Tambrands (a tampon brand from P&G) where there wasn’t a woman in the room. Hell, that’s still not so unusual in 2008.

You see, Della Femina has just read Juliann Sivulka’s new book, Ad Women: How They Impact What We Need, Want, and Buy. Sivulka’s book is an indepth and surprising history of women’s role in the advertising business. Come on. Did you know that Mathilde C. Weil started the M.C. Weil Agency just 20 years after the Civil War?

Sivulka explores three key periods in the history of American advertising, which represent eras of major social change for women (1880-1920, the 1920s, and the 1970s). She discusses the effect on advertising due to the women’s movement, minority movements, and consumer activism, and devotes an entire chapter to the contributions to advertising of African American, Hispanic, and Asian American women in the twentieth century. Hot damn!

It’s not all about the past though. The title also sheds light on the craptastic fact that women in the industry are still paid less and promoted at a slower rate. Can you believe we still have to protest this crap?

More: WSJ Names 50 Women to Watch in 2008

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Reading List: Minds For Rent


Lately, there are more and more people heading out the door and into the wild, wide jungle of the freelance marketplace. So, how do you price your first job? And just how do you rustle up your first gig or your third?

“Minds For Rent”
, written by Kevin Amter has got your answers. Amter is a freelance advertising Creative Director / Art Director and has worked for agencies like um, everyone: BBDO Atlanta, BBDO NY, BBDO West, Burrell, Chiat Day,Hill Holliday, McCann, MRM, Naked Communications, Ogilvy & Mather, WestWayne, et al.

If you’re going freelance any time soon, it might be just what you need to keep shit sane. You can download the forward of the book here.

More: Numerati: What’s Your Number?

Reading List: Numerati: What’s Your Number?

The Numerati, written by Stephen Baker, is a must read. The title is an in-depth account of the market segmented world we now live in – a place where its all about the numbers and “behavioral clues” for brands, as well as governments. From NYT’s review:

“Baker offers an anecdote about a firm called Umbria helping a cellphone company that’s decided to charge more for Bluetooth data connections, a move that “sent bloggers into a fury.” Umbria, which studies bloggers and divides them into tribes, concluded that all the spleen-venting was coming from the “power users,” whereas “the fashionistas, the music lovers, the cheapskates” did not care. “With this intelligence,” Baker writes, the company could placate the power users by offering them “free” service (while raising the prices on headsets) and “continue charging everyone else.”

As PSFK noted about this type of number crunching: “This kind of personal information has been available to anyone who wanted it for a long time, but with the increasing amount of time that we now spend online, the details of who we are based on this activity is getting easier to extract.”

On internet Big Brother? Are you out there?

More: Reading List: The Happy Soul Industry

Reading List: But Wait! There’s More! (maybe)


A new book has hit the advertising shelves: “But Wait! There’s More! (maybe),” written by Donald E. Creamer (founder, Chairman and CEO of HBM/Creamer later sold to WCRS London) and James Baar who is a former Washington journalist and PR executive. The book provides 35 supposedly “battle-tested insider lessons for the model agency CEO.” Why fill up the front copy table at Barnes and Noble with yet another how-to business book? The authors say that:

“Unlike the current TV pornflick “Mad Men” where the problems of a dysfunctional alleged ad agency result simply from excessive libido and great thirst, the congenital challenges facing CEOs of real advertising agencies and other businesses which the book addresses are far more subtle and complex.”

Those lessons include dealing with such everyday phenomena as insider mendacity, client stupidity and smoky euphoria – whatever that means. There are 8 total. The most interesting to us was:

“Yesteryear’s supermen may no longer be able or willing to leap over buildings in a single bound – Hiring of historic heroes laden with dusty awards may not bring in new business or create great advertising no matter how loud the drums roll and the trumpets blare.”

You’ve been warned.

More: The Entire Reading List

Reading List: A History Of Advertising

Publicis Groupe and the wonderful book publisher, TASCHEN, have announced the release of A History of Advertising, written by Stephane Pincas and Marc Loiseau. As the press release notes, both have several decades of experience working within Publicis Groupe in Paris.

The book lay outs iconic campaigns through the decades from Richard Avedon to Picasso and film directors such as Wong Kar Wai and Jean-Jacques Annaud. It also covers the evolution of big brand advertising (Coke, Nescafe, etc.) and their recent use of technology.

It’s a beautiful book. Get your coffee table ready.

More: From The Reading List…