4 Advertising Books That Should Be In Every Agency Nerd’s Library

Sep 19, 2016

Advertising doesn’t necessarily require a degree in the field to get your foot in the door at a great agency but it doesn’t hurt to have done your homework, whether you have years of experience under your belt or are gearing up for your first internship at an agency. This may be a world of changing platforms, new algorithms, shifting tactics and constant progress but the basics always stay the same and should never be undervalued.

Below are four advertising books that will give you a solid foundation for your career in the industry. Classics, if you will.


Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy

Before there was Don Draper, there was David Ogilvy. Ever heard of the man in the Hathaway shirt? No? Get reading. Ogilvy’s work for the likes of Rolls Royce, Schweppes, and Campbell’s was considered groundbreaking at the time and set the stage for modern copywriting. Beyond that, his understanding of agency management, hiring and retention of great talent, and philosophy on client relationships hasn’t become outdated despite the passing of years.



AdLand: A Global History of Advertising

Mark Tungate

Let’s start at the beginning. Tungate takes you from the origin of advertising right on through the ages. You’ll learn about important players in the early era of advertising like George Lois and Leo Burnett and get a basic history of great global agencies. Of course, a lot’s happened in the ad world since this book was published in 2007, but it covers 200 years in 265 pages. I think you can manage the rest.



Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind

Al Ries & Jack Trout

If you go to school for advertising or marketing, it’s very likely that you’ll see this book on a reading list or, at the very least, spot “positioning” on your syllabus somewhere. Positioning, defining how your brand stands out or what position it occupies in the mind of the consumer, is one of the foundation pieces of marketing. If you get this, and can put it into practice, you’ll be in good shape to serve future clients at an agency, regardless of the department in which you work.



The Art of Client Service

Robert Solomon

Whether you’re a designer or a planner, it’s important to remember who pays the bills. Though advertising is one of few industries where the customer isn’t always right, it’s important to foster a positive relationship with your client if you want to make great work. A lot of the information in this very short book seems intuitive but I’ve always appreciated the reminders that it gives about who we work for, how to deliver great work, and relationship-building for long term success.


And for extra credit…


Hitting the Sweet Spot: How Consumer Insights Can Inspire Better Marketing and Advertising

Lisa A. Fortini-Campbell


Leaders Eat Last

Simon Sinek


Start With Why

Simon Sinek


The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design

Marty Neumeier


Happy reading, ad nerds! Let us know what your favorites are!