By Andrew Neitlich

Classic Advertising Books

By Andrew Neitlich

The Wall Street Journal today posted a list of 5 classic advertising books that may interest you. The list was created by famous advertising entrepreneur Jerry Della Famina. The books are:

The 100 Greatest Advertistements 1852-1958 by Julius Lewis Watkins, 1959

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, 1963

Bill Bernbach’s Book By Bob Levenson, 1987

A Technique for Producing Ideas, by James Webb Young, 1940

Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves (inventor of the USP), 1961

These are timeless classics and should be part of any marketing/web designer/copy writer’s library.

  • babyboy808

    Hey Andrew, where would I get my hands on a copy of Confessions of an Advertising Man? Thanks

  • leelee39

    A 2 second Amazon search revealed this:

    Hope that helps.

  • leelee39

    Apologies for the formatting of that last message. Would love to be able to edit it…

  • Fazal

    you could always try abebooks.com

  • Is that a referral tag I see in that amazon link lee…

  • lajkonik86

    yeay it is what’s wrong with all these money obsessed people?

  • Lord Brar

    I am shocked that this list doesn’t contain Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins.

  • leelee39

    You can’t see a referral tag, no. I did consider it, though.

  • aneitlich

    Lord Brar,

    The Wall Street Journal only allows its guest columnist to choose five books. So a list like this is never complete.

    But that’s great input. I was hoping posts to this blog would add recommendations instead of talking about referral tags to Amazon.


  • :) Well yeah, even I would love to hear other recommendations!

    Hey, I would also like to pitch in two more marketing books, no three actually —

    1. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger. I can safely say that this one book really changed my complete mindset and super-charged the way I do Marketing.

    2. Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. I must have read this book 8 times and every time I read it, I learn something new about human psychology that I can directly use in my marketing campaigns.

    3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Ok it’s not about marketing but each and every principle he talks about in this book is directly applicable.

    Andrew, I don’t hold any MBA degree from HBS or for that matter any formal degree but I have been involved in marketing industry in one way or another for the last 12 years (from ground staff to copywriting / creative and production department :) ).

    In all this time, I have come to realize one disturbing fact — Most people ignore that Marketing is all about Psychology. What are we doing while promoting? We are trying to influence our target audience’s minds. That is why whenever someone asks me to recommend them some marketing courses or books I always include materials that covers applied psychology (not those dry and crap textbook stuff).

    And that’s is something I’d like to stress in here too — Your understanding of marketing will never be complete without understanding the working of human mind.

    Don’t you agree with me here? :)

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  • aneitlich

    Lord Brar:

    Absolutely I agree. Marketing and relationships are all about human psychology and understanding of the human mind.

    I don’t know the Bettger book, but read the Cialdini book over and over again as well; it also changes how I think about marketing and relationships.

    And Carnegie’s book is also a classic.

    Also, the Harvard MBA thing is way over-rated. It opens doors for me, that’s for sure. But their content is not what helped me. Learning, doing, and building relationships while serving others and thinking on my feet have been the keys!

  • James

    The most recent book in that list is almost 20 years old. Sure, there’s a general trend of principles to follow, but surely 90% of the content in these books is irrelevant to online advertising?

  • babyboy808

    James, the most recent book might be 20 years old indeed, but i’m sure the concepts are still valid. They won’t talk about online advertising i’m sure, but they will explain the core principles on advertising.

  • Ravedesigns

    Okay – I’ll add my two favorite classic to the list…

    Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples and

    How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab.

    Good, good stuff!

  • @James : >> Sure, there’s a general trend of principles to follow, but surely 90% of the content in these books is irrelevant to online advertising? basic principles are the same.

    If you know what influences the human mind, you can easily create effective ad-campaigns. I’d highly recommend that you read Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

  • friendsterindia

    22 immutable laws of branding/internet branding…

  • Dorsey

    I absolutely loved David Ogilvy’s book, possibly because the images tugged at my memory, having seen many of those ads years ago. Some of his concepts seem outdated now, but advertising is not my profession, so I can’t really say what works and what doesn’t. However, he reveals a lot of common sense approaches and techniques that are very difficult to argue with.

    I borrowed a copy from my local library several times. I’d recommend reading it from cover to cover, but there are only a few things that you need to have stick, and taking notes did it for me.


  • anitha

    can someone give a brief of david ogilvy’s book please..

  • Ruperto

    Creative Advertising- Ideas and techniques from the world’s best campaigns, Thames and Hudson. This is a great book that is completely non-scientific non-theory. Instead it uses experience hands-on knowledge from leading advertising creatives to study the creative individual processes behind great advertising. Creativity and ideas are frequently killed by science and theory. I loved this books lateral thinking in its colourful varied look at advertising around the world.
    I want to buy a book on digital marketing and internet branding, anyone know any good ones?

  • alain

    And more current still…
    (And the definitive book on the Creative Revolution – well, maybe Dobrow’s “When Advertising Tried Harder” was pretty good, and 25 years earlier.)
    Check out this book on Helmut Krone, reviewed recently at Design Observer. You won’t get a more thorough book on all the really great, ground breaking work (I think more than 800 illustrations) and hoe art direction came to define modern advertising.
    Interestingly Krone was influenced by Ogilvy – the great putter-downer of all things ‘creative’

  • Rita

    I have been trying to get a copy of Rosser Reeves book Reality in Advertising. Anyone know where I could get a downloaded copy by pdf as it’s been out of print for a long time? Would love to be able to download it from somewhere? Anyone? Thanks!

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