The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi
Of the ad books I’ve read, this is by far the most comprehensive and up-to-date snapshot of where the advertising industry (if we can still call it that) is today and how we got here. Iezzi places today’s ad industry in a historical context, going back to the industry’s founding fathers like Rosser Reeves and David Ogilvy, the first creative revolution sparked by Bill Bernbach and DDB, on through the changing styles of epic television spots in the 80s and 90s. But the book is primarily about the current creative revolution, sparked by digital technology, and how evolving media is changing the jobs of copywriters (although most of the book is applicable to anyone in the creative department).
The role of the copywriter has gone from writing television scripts and print headlines—pieces of one-way communication—to constructing and articulating more complex narratives that include longer-form content, cross-media experiences and dialogues between the brand and consumers (or consumers and other consumers). Iezzi covers some of the seminal cases that shaped this new landscape—BMW films, Whopper Sacrifice, Halo 3, and the Old Spice guy to name a few. She also conducts interviews with various people in the industry to get their take on how they do what they do. I was happy to see a few of my former students interviewed and credited with creating some of the best work in recent years.
The evolving nature of the industry makes it hard to capture “how it’s done.” One of the main things to take away from The Idea Writers is that there is no one right way. It’s no longer about simply being creative with what goes on the media. It’s about being creative with the media itself, the process, even the structure of the companies creating it. We’re in such a new and strange space that it’s hard to say exactly where we are. But this book gives a great overview of how we got here. A must read for anyone working or hoping to work in “advertising” today.