Monday, October 13, 2014

The best advertising book ever compiled has just been re-published.

Back about 30 years ago I bought a book called "Remember those great Volkswagen ads?" With the possible exception of "Ogilvy on Advertising," it was the best book on advertising I've ever read. It is certainly the best book on copywriting, bar none.

The book consisted of 300 or so Volkswagen ads. With a magnifying glass and a bright desk lamp, you could read each one, as I did, over and again. I cannot conceive of better training for anyone who writes for a living. As Dave Trott points out, after Bernbach, everything else is a footnote. To that I might add that Volkwagen was the apotheosis of DDB. They might have reached peaks on other pieces of business, but no account did more great work over more decades than DDB and its overseas arms did for VW.

Last week, a friend from blogging, John O'Driscoll, sent me an email asking for my home address. He's one of the men behind the new, expanded edition, along with the late David Abbott and Alfredo Marcantonio. And today the copy he sent me arrived via the good graces of Federal Express.

Though I have work to do today, "Remember" pushed it to the back-burner. I just had to scour the volume. I just had to write this.

A new, comprehensive book on VW's glory decades is to me what discovering a new Leonardo, or Van Gogh would be to an art historian.

This is an event.

The new volume has expanded to 450 ads, including some I've never seen before from Germany and France. And that's going some, because, like I said, I strive to be a good writer and Volkswagen ads have been my teacher. I've sought out DDB's opus and their spawn for my whole career. You can buy the new volume here and if you're serious about effective communication, you owe it to yourself and your clients.

I'm not a big deal in advertising like I once was. In fact, right now I'm the lowest of the low--a freelancer. Like Lear, I'm on the downhill side of life. But, still, I'll say this.

If I were running an agency or a creative department, I'd buy a copy of "Remember" for every client. I'd buy one for every account person, planner and creative as well. Then I'd give every one a reading day. A day where they had nothing to do but read VW ads.

They'd see the virtue of single-mindedness. They'd see that work can build both a rational and emotional connection with the viewer. They'd see the best product advertising ever created and the best brand advertising, too. They'd see clarity. They'd see persuasion. They'd see wit.

My clients would be better clients. My agency would create better creative.

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