I will always remember the day I was most nervous about the launch of my book. It wasn’t the first day of sales on Amazon or my interview on ABC News. Rather, it was the day George Parker said he would review my book. In case you don’t read AdScam or haven’t grabbed a pint with him after one of his many conference appearances, George Parker is the man in the advertising industry who is most likely to say your work sucks. He is a lifelong advertising veteran, but no longer has to kiss clients’ and bosses’ asses—and he regularly uses his wit and stage to tear down the worst of our industry. But we decided to send him a copy of my book anyway. We figured that he and his audience would agree with our book topic, and, frankly, I wanted the Simon Cowell of our business to tell me whether I have any talent. Luckily, he gave my book a very positive review. And now I want to return the favor.
George’s most recent book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, is a must-read for anyone who works in the world of advertising agencies, or wants to learn how this business really operates. Not only does he help us laugh at the worst parts of being in this business, but he takes us on a journey through the struggles to figure out what to do now. He hits topics ranging from the rise of ad-agency conglomerates (we’re a member of one of them, WPP) to pharmaceutical marketing to the politics of political advertising. Throughout the book, he brings in countless anecdotes from his long career on the front lines.
It is truly refreshing to read the completely honest opinions of someone in the ad business. We do not see this very often—mainly because all of us working in advertising are afraid to burn bridges with past, present, or future clients. One of my favorite lines, for example, is something none of us would dare say:
“As anyone who’s been in advertising for any length of time knows, it is quite possibly the dumbest business in the world.”
I have to admit that “advertising” as an occupation can be pretty dumb—especially when you’re doing things the interruptive way and in those times when you are forced to give your client what they want, rather than what they need.
But Parker goes on later in his book to suggest that meaningful marketing is the path to success for those of us who don’t want to do things the dumb way:
“Successful practitioners of the advertising arts will be those who can create effective communications without obvious intrusiveness.”
So give George Parker’s latest book a read. I guarantee that you will laugh out loud for a few hours—and you just might discover some smarter ways to survive this crazy advertising business.