Summer Reads for Marcom Pros

Thursday, July 21st, 2011 by Jane

Many marcom professionals will feel compelled, as business people, to grab the latest Everything You Need to Know in the Universe About Social Media-type book or [Insert Social Channel] for Dummies guide as vacation reading this summer. But as passionate, creative thinkers, they also should consider dropping a few of these titles into their beach bags:

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Why You Should Read It: One inspiration for the AMC series Mad Men is David Ogilvy, co-founder of legendary ad shop Ogilvy & Mather. Ogilvy understood that you can’t sell anything unless you know your consumer—great creative just isn’t enough. While Internet and social campaigns are post-Ogilvy, much of this visionary’s insight remains relevant. (For example, he emphasized the importance of direct-response advertising—getting consumers to interact with your brand.) Ogilvy on Advertising is also worth perusing for the retro images of campaigns featuring brands like Rolls-Royce and Schweppes, and (gasp) the infamous Marlboro Man.

Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface by Lars Muller

Why You Should Read It: Marcom pros often play a key role in developing “the look” of a campaign, which is why they should take time to consider the Helvetica font. This sans-serif typeface has been around for more than 50 years and has long been a favorite in advertising and publishing. (It is so revered by graphic designers, a feature-length independent film was made about it.) Just some famous logos based on Helvetica: 3M, Harley Davidson, Jeep, Mattel, Microsoft and Skype. Helvetica is simple and clean and seen everywhere  – but its ubiquity doesn’t undermine its effectiveness.  Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface shows the font “in action” in the real world, and demonstrates why choosing the right typeface for your message is just as important as selecting the words.

Marketing: Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by David Meerman Scott, with Brian Halligan

Why You Should Read It: Even marcom pros who aren’t Deadheads can appreciate how the Grateful Dead built a legion of loyal followers and harnessed the power of word-of-mouth marketing—long before the Internet or social networking existed. In fact, the Grateful Dead’s fan base was a living, breathing social network. So pull your tie-dyed shirt out of the closet (you know you have one) and curl up with the Dead poolside to absorb deep insights such as: “The Grateful Dead Teaches Us That When We Free Our Content, More People Hear About Our Company and Eventually Do Business With Us” and “The Grateful Dead Teaches Us To Keep In Touch With Our Customers On a Personal Level And To Use The Newest Technologies Available To Reach Them.” Far out.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Why You Should Read It (Again): You’ve probably read this book at least once in your life, but read it now as a marcom pro. Only 50 different words appear in it, underscoring the power of simplicity in copy.  And while many seek to uncover the hidden meaning of this tale—suggesting it’s about religion or race or politics—it is, essentially, a story about persistence. “Sam” spends the entire book trying to get the unnamed lead character to try green eggs and ham because he’s certain he’ll like them. After using several different messages and approaches, Sam finally convinces the character to try them and—lo and behold!—Sam was right: He knew what the character [consumer] wanted before the character did. Or, at least, Sam managed to convince him that green eggs and ham were “so good, so good” that he would  “… eat them in the rain. And in the dark. And on a train. And in a car. And in a tree.”

Perhaps David Ogilvy’s book was on Sam’s summer reading list, too?


is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.


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