Tuesdata: The books that influenced the marketing industry’s thinking class
Welcome to Tuesdata, our weekly analysis for Unmade’s paying members.
This week’s edition tackles a simple question with some fascinating answers. We asked some of the industry’s smartest people to recommend the one book that most influenced how they think about the world of media and marketing.
Further down, a better day on the Unmade Index.
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Seja Al Zaidi writes:
There’s no shortage of instructive books promising the mastery of all things media, communications and marketing. Some deliver exactly that. Others… do not.
So we turned to some of the sharpest minds in the Australian marketing world to hear what shaped their thinking. Find out below what Telstra CMO Brent Smart takes from the life of adman Howard Gossage; how News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller learned to gain from competitor’s mistakes; and how Lafley and Martin’s view on strategy shaped Dentsu chief investment officer Ben Shepherd’s perception. Hear too, why Mark Ritson nominates Ernest Hemingway.
Below, we speak to James Hier, Russel Howcroft, Sophie Price, Ted Horton, Brent Smart, Mark Ritson, Michael Miller, Caroline Hugall, Ben Shepherd, Gaven Morris, Barry O’Brien and Gavin Gibson.
Caroline Hugall, Chief Strategy Officer at Spark Foundry
The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin
Rick Rubin is one of the most culturally prolific and influential figures of the modern era. His book The Creative Act: A Way of Being is part spiritual rumination, part practical handbook that's composed of 78 meditations on the creative process, which democratises it for everyone. ("Regardless of whether or not we're formally making art, we are all living as artists.") It's a dynamic, energy-giving book that I keep close by at all times. It is a constant reminder not to put ‘creativity’ in a box, but instead bring it to every task, no matter how big or small.
James Hier, Chief Growth and Product Officer at Wavemaker:
The Book of Gossage by Howard Gossage, Jeff Goodby, Bruce Bendinger
If you want to be the best in advertising and at the same time are really concerned by it, here’s a book for you. It’s about the not as famous as he should be US madman Howard Gossage and his provocative thinking about the craft, as relevant then and as now. The Book Of Gossage taught me not to plan too far, you never know how your campaign is going to be received – he called this the ‘participatory approach’ because he believed he was in a conversation and only a bore doesn’t listen. He’d ask the perennial ‘what keeps you up at night’ to the client…and then write an ad asking the consumer to solve it.
His whole ethos was making the faceless consumer real for the client, by getting them to respond to the work, so building an emotional connection between the client (and agency) and the audience. He believed it changed the work, moving the client from thinking their petrol station sold rocket fuel to a grudge purchase that we can make a little bit more convenient.
He did irony and fun in the era of ‘whiter than white’. His ad for Qantas had the headline “Be the first on your block to win a kangaroo”... taking his own medicine he waited to see where that went before the next campaign.
Brent Smart, Chief Marketing Officer at Telstra
Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man by Steve Harrison
A book about the American ad genius Howard Luck Gossage, who should be more famous, but sadly died in the late 60s. I discovered Gossage when I moved to San Francisco - in a town more famous for tech founders, he was an ad pioneer who influenced the next generation of creative leaders from the West Coast, like Jeff Goodby. Gossage was decades ahead of his time, more interested in ideas that were “interactive” and “platforms” (his words) that would involve the audience and get brands talked about, like giving away free pink air for FINA gas stations and giving away a kangaroo for an unknown Australian airline called Qantas. Gossage also coined my favourite quote about advertising: “Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad”. A great reminder then, as it is now, that people aren’t as interested in our brands or our advertising as much as we marketers are.
Mark Ritson, marketing professor and proprietor of the Marketing Week Mini MBA:
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
I know it has nothing to do with business directly, but The Old Man and the Sea had a giant impact on me as a young man.
At first glance there is little to learn about marketing from Hemingway's final novel, but I'd argue that's true of most of the boring-as-fuck books that most marketers nominate.