Close-Up: Stocking-filler ideas from the literati of adland

As the season of goodwill draws near, Campaign reviews some industry literary offerings that might make Santa's sack.

Television commercial breaks stuffed full of ads for cheap jewellery, aftershave and boxes of chocolate. Weekend traffic queues for Bluewater stretching half-way to Birmingham. Daily hangovers. No black cabs. It must be Christmas.

But fear not. Help is at hand. No need for the last-minute raid on Harrods for those little gifts to bring some seasonal cheer to the adman or woman in your life.

The industry's literary types have been pouring out the words during the year and Campaign has been casting a critical eye over their output, from novels to more serious tomes about how to build brands.

Sadly, you'll have to wait until next Christmas for some of the industry's long-awaited tomes. David Abbott's first work of fiction has still not appeared. The former Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO creative chief has been sweating over the book since 1998, but is telling friends it will be on the shelves next year. So too will be the debut novel from ITV's ex-chief executive Richard Eyre. No date yet, however, for Peter Mead's life story from the mean streets of Peckham via Millwall FC to the vice-chairmanship of Omnicom.

If, however, your bookshelf already holds titles such as Ogilvy on Advertising and Bill Bernbach's A History of Advertising that Changed the History of Advertising, then read on. Here is our selection of books to curl up with by the log fire with some mulled wine.

- Change the World for a Fiver - Various

At £5, Change the World for a Fiver is firmly positioned at the lower end of the price scale.

The book's raison d'etre is laudable enough,though some may find it a little pious. "Fifty actions to change the world and make you feel good" are suggested, such as using fewer carrier bags or spending time with someone from a different generation.The book is well-designed by an all-star creative team including Steve Henry, Tim Ashton, Chris O'Shea, Ken Hoggins and Paul Twivy (whose day-jobs presumably fuel the rampant consumerism that sits uneasily with the book's ethos).

It would be an overstatement to claim that buying the book will change the world, but it's a worthy enough sentiment and it might help save the souls of the authors.

Rating: 4/5

- The Business of Brands - Jon Miller and David Muir

Don't be put off by its rather unappealing cover. The Business of Brands is a readable and engaging piece of work that would make an ideal gift for anyone interested in marketing and the management of brands.

Using a range of case studies and stories, it surveys the best and brightest brands from around the world: Muir, the group development director of Ogilvy & Mather, has used his contacts to include endorsements from Sir Niall Fitzgerald, Shelly Lazarus, and Sir Martin Sorrell.

Rating: 3/5

- How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

There's been praise a-plenty for the debut novel by Meg Rosoff, the former Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson copywriter. Daisy, a 15-year-old, is sent from New York to a farm in England to visit her aunt and four young cousins. Her aunt goes away on business. The next day, London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

With no adults and no rules, Daisy forms an extraordinary bond with her cousins as they face an unknown, scary world. "Readers will emerge from the rubble much shaken, a little wiser and with, perhaps, a greater sense of humility," one reviewer says.

Rating: 4/5

- Celebrity Sells - Hamish Pringle

This book will make an ideal stocking filler not only for marketers who want to know how to make the most of celebrity endorsement but also for anybody fascinated by the public's obsession with the celebrity cult.

The IPA director-general offers lots of "how-to" advice when it comes to picking the right celeb to promote a product, much of it culled from interviews with leading creatives.

But Celebrity Sells is absorbing enough to appeal to a mainstream audience.

The Beckham phenomenon and the battle between Jamie Oliver and Dotty in the supermarket wars are both analysed. There's even a conversation with Michael Winner on why his esure commercials have been so successful and why adland thinks they're crap.

Rating: 3/5

- The Pirate Inside - Adam Morgan

Although it has a title that would be more suitable for a children's picture book, The Pirate Inside is actually about advertising.

Most branding books fall into one of two categories: they tend to be either obsessed with brand leaders or focused on methods of brand management.

But in his follow-up to the successful Eating the Big Fish, Morgan uses the analogy of being a pirate to demonstrate how challenger brands can be shaped by the people behind them.

A partner in the international consultancy eatbigfish, Morgan is one of the leading experts in his chosen field. If you've ever wondered how many painful naval/brand analogies can be squeezed into one book, then this is for you.

Rating: 3/5

- Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands - Kevin Roberts

Why is it that we fall for some brands totally while others leave us disenchanted and seeking solace elsewhere? Kevin Roberts reckons he has the answer. Love. Unless brands can connect emotionally with consumers, they'll dry up like raisins, he argues.

Anybody who has met Saatchi & Saatchi's worldwide chief executive knows he's never been one to understate his achievements. In Lovemarks, Roberts doesn't let false modesty get in the way when sharing his experiences of brand-building and shaking things up.

Nevertheless, his conversational style makes Lovemarks a pleasure to read. In just over 200 pages, he distils a lively, critical assessment of brands and the problems they face down to its essence.

Rating: 2/5

- Inside Music 2005 - Kevin Harris and Stephen Colegrave

At the height of the self-help book craze, there was teach yourself accountancy, languages and origami. Fast forward two decades and Stephen Colegrave, the head of new business and strategic planning at Carney Richardson, and Kevin Harris have created a guide to making it in the music business.

This book attempts to cover all aspects of the business, from setting up a white label to negotiating a multimillion-pound contract, backed up by interviews with leading music industry figures. Strong sales figures defy the pasting it received in Kerrang!.

Because the authors can't help you acquire the talent necessary to record that hit single, the book perhaps is guilty of building up the hopes of office-bound aspirant rockers.

Rating: 1/5

- Samples of One - Compiled by Reg Starkey

Samples of One, more of a coffee-table tome than a stocking filler, has an appeal beyond the confines of adland.

Compiled by Reg Starkey, who has worked his way from junior copywriter at KMP to president of the Creative Circle, this hardback spectacular is "designed to provide fresh insights into the broader advertising and marketing opportunities".

It contains 31 interviews with a range of luminaries including David Abbott, Prunella Scales and Ann Widdecombe. They have in common half-a-century or more of "life experience", which the author thinks relevant to our search for enlightenment.

Rating: 3/5.


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