Second Wind’s Must-Read Books for Advertising Agency People

Recently, an agency principal called with an unusual request. He wanted a reading list to share with his employees that would provide a “best of” overview of the industry’s best ideas, thinking and history. We were happy to compile a list of our favorites, and thought all of our readers might like to see it.

Topics range from the wisdom of Bernbach and Ogilvy, to sales techniques, copywriting, brand positioning and viral marketing. Some are classics, others are recent additions destined to be classics. A few remind us of ethics and best practices too often igmored in the modern era. The list is alphabetical, not by order of importance or recommendation. Please suggest additional titles if you have favorites not on the list. Links are to traditional print editions via Amazon.com, but all may be available elsewhere; some may also be available as ebooks.

All are worth a browse or a serious cover-to-cover reading. If you're feeling extra ambitious we challenge you to pick one of the books and have your entire team read it and then take some time to come together, either virtually or in-person (socially distanced of course), and discuss. Could be a fun team building exercise or even just a welcome change of pace from the typical day-to-day. Happy reading!

BadMen: How Advertising Went from a Minor Annoyance to a Major Menace by Bob Hoffman (The Ad Contrarian)

Building Strong Brands by David Aaker

Contagious: Why Things Catch On  by Berger, Jonah

Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy by Phil P. Barden

Guerrilla Marketingby Jay Conrad Levinson

Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan, Sam Bennett

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion By Dr. Robert Cialdini

Integrated Marketing Communications: Putting It Together & Making It Work by Don E. Schultz, Stanley I. Tannenbaum, Robert F. Lauterborn

Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer

Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands by Kevin Roberts

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman (Classic Reprint) by Robert R. Updegraff

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries, Jack Trout, and Philip Kotler

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade By Dr. Robert Cialdini

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries and Jack Trout

The Book of Gossage by Howard Luck Gossage, Jeff Goodby, and Bruce Bendinger

The Choice Factory: 25 Behavioural Biases That Influence What We Buy by Richard Shotton

The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells By Robert W. Bly

The Little Blue Book of Advertising: 52 Small Ideas That Can Make a Big Difference by Steve Lance, Jeff Woll

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson

Truth, Lies and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning By Jon Steel

Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign by Randall Rothenberg

In addition to books, consider agency subscriptions to AdAge and Adweek, and have employees share favorite blogs, online publications like TheDrum and MediaBistro, and tech-specific publishing sites. Mix in some general interest newspapers or magazines. Whether you dabble or delve deep, enjoy. Thanks and good reading!