It isn’t often that I read non-fiction that I truly enjoy. After getting a recommendation for this book as I had expressed interest in the subject, I can honestly say that it breaks the mold!
I had known the basics of advertising as an industry before reading this book, but Sullivan provides a well-thought out look into aspects of advertising work that I hadn’t even previously considered.
First, he leads with the commercial that gave this book its name – and as with everything later in the book, he does so cleverly and with great humour. This book is funny, and it was an absolute joy to read.
I picked up the e-book, which turned out to be a great advantage. Many references to ads are made throughout the book, and in the digital copy they link straight to websites and ads. This was fantastic. Rather than distracting, this provided a great look at transmedia content that I otherwise would have had to spend far more time searching for.
Though the book is about advertising, a lot of the subjects talked about would be effective in unlocking creativity in any applicable field. I found Sullivan very inspiring, and I was itching to write the entire time I was reading the book. I came away with a few key points that I feel are important not just for advertising. Creativity is messy, and anyone creative knows it. Sometimes though, it’s nice to hear someone else say it and not just try and justify it to yourself when it’s three in the morning and you’re covered in paint and newspaper strips.
Some of Sullivan’s methods are the tried and true ones of all creatives: let your work sit overnight or a few days before coming back to take a second look. Bring a big knife to your editing table and cut out everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. When inspiration comes, don’t stop working. Push yourself until your walls are covered in ideas – even bad ones.
While those are things creatives are already aware of, it didn’t make them any less valuable in the book. If anything, Sullivan’s delivery served to refresh them in such a way that it was like learning of them for the first time all over again. Anyone who can do that with such key concepts certainly has my respect.
Besides the body of the text, this book is full of references not only to ads, but to other books and resources that the reader can then seek out and explore at their leisure.
Though it could be argued that this is a guide for beginners, I think that everyone would be well-served in reading it. I would recommend it to everyone, not only those in the field of advertising. In saying that, there is a very helpful chapter at the end of the book advising those who want to break into the industry which will definitely serve those looking to do so.
I was also very happy to see that this book is being updated with a new edition this February! Not only will I be picking it up, but I’ll also be taking a look at the author’s other work as well as his speaking engagements.
You should read this book!