Laurence Green of MullenLowe: why great advertising books matter more than ever today

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (Dr. Seuss.)

Or, to put it another way: reading is good for you. I doubt this brooks much disagreement: you’re reading this, after all.

The case for reading about our chosen profession is, of course, self-evident. As practitioners in a fast-changing market, we need to be well informed to perform our jobs competently. And our modern diet of bulletins and blogs means that it’s never been easier to skim the latest news and views.

But there’s the rub.

Because skimming, of course, will only get us so far. (To Dr. Seuss’s “more things we know,” perhaps, but no further: we rarely learn more in the true sense from our quotidian snacking.)

And because our genetic skew towards the new, meanwhile, turns us slowly but surely into “dogs that bark at every passing car” in David Wheldon’s famous words. We explore the present more enthusiastically than we inspect the past. Accumulated wisdom withers on the vine.

As Einstein observed: “Somebody who only reads newspapers and books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.”

So hurray for More About Advertising’s all-new advertising bookshop, with its implicit mission to broaden and deepen our understanding of our field of employment.

This needn’t be a chore (indeed is more likely to be a pleasure) because the joy of The Advertising Book – in its many guises – is that it tells stories about the human imagination. About the people, strategies and ideas that move markets. And some of them even have pictures.

In much the same way as a great advertising idea is often the sensible masquerading as the bonkers, a great advertising book is part Dr. Seuss, part Einstein. Play is never far away, however sober the authorial intent.

A well-stocked advertising bookshelf will help you learn first-hand from the greats (from Ogilvy, from Hegarty, from Mary Wells Lawrence and James Webb Young); appreciate the great campaigns of the past (see Alfredo Marcantonio’s love letters to Volkswagen and The Economist); bear witness to the great advertising pitches and the less great also (compare Jon Steel’s Perfect Pitch with Randall Rothenberg’s Where The Suckers Moon).

Not all of the above are available as yet from MAA, but there’s plenty already to sate the appetite.

In a world of snacks, the advertising bookstore provides solid nourishment.

Tuck in.

Laurence Green is executive partner of MullenLowe. He was a co-founder and chairman of Fallon London and then 101. He is a Fellow of the IPA, member of its Effectiveness board and chairman of the British Independent Film Awards.

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