Mar 24, 2020dixithanoop rated this title 3.5 out of 5 stars
Once in a while, I love to read books that are about a totally different industry than mine, and yet seems fascinating even for an outsider! Of many such industries that demands extreme creativity and problem solving skills, the one that arguably sits in the top three is advertising! Adland, by Mark Tungate, did justice in delivering a clean and crisp evolution of the advertising world across the world, mostly focussed on the US and UK scenes, with a special emphasis on Japanese giants. It narrates riveting stories of some of the world's most popular ad campaigns, of all the drama that goes on behind a wildly popular slogan for a brand, of the creation of many ubiquitous mascots, amongst others. There are too many names, and rightly so given it's a wide industry, so my focus while reading this book was more on the ideas and creative aspect as opposed to the names themselves. But still, now I know the names of the Big Five of the advertising world, and no, Dentsu is not one of them!
The book does an admirable job in explaining the evolution of ads in the US, where the first ones were of patent medicines, who were essentially those dubious potions (comping to think of it, most of the most popular advertising campaigns today are still about the brands that are rooted in these potions ;)). The most intriguing parts of the book obviously are about the stories behind some of the major ad campaigns from who's who of advertising world - Arrow Collar Man from Calkins and Holden, DDB's legendary Think Small and Lemon campaign for Volkswagen Beetle, their Juan Valdez character for Columbian coffee, BBH's fabled The Axe Effect campaign, Leo Burnett's world famous creations like Tony the Tiger, Marlboro Cowboy, and of course their Pillsbury Doughboy etc. The book also draws your appreciation to the stories behind some of the world renowned tag lines like British Airways' World's Favorite Airline, Adidas's' Forever Sport (before their celebrated Impossible is Nothing), Volvo's Drive It Like You hate It, Mini Cooper's Let's Motor etc. The moment I picked up the book, I knew there has to be the 1984 Apple ad in it, and it was. An entire section has been dedicated to the Chiat/Day's critically acclaimed Macintosh ad of 1984.
Apart from these, the book also highlights many related evolutions - like the development of Gallup Corporation, which started as a customer feedback company for the ad agency Rubicam, the creation of the concept of USP by Rosser Reeves, the Claude Hopkins model of advertisement which is prevalent event today where the ads are more poetic than coherent, Japanese advertising giant Dentsu's Haiku style blitz ads, AT&T's WEAF evolving into NBC, its British cousin BBC, of Mary Wells the first woman CEO of a public company etc. It also raises some curious observations of the advertising world like how most of the ads of the Western world don't go well with the Eastern Europeans who are known to not appreciate the authority of a dentist or a doctor endorsing a brand!
Overall, I'd say the book is a captivating read, except for too many names (which is understandable), for anyone that's curious about the creativity stuffed in the advertising business.