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Changing the World Is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man [Paperback]

Steve Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
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Book Description

28 Feb 2012
This is the story of a 'sixties adman who harnessed the big ideas of his age and set out to reinvent advertising - and then change the world. In so doing he introduced interactive, PR-generating stunts, and social media - way back in the 1960s. Then he used them to save the Grand Canyon, kick-start the Green Movement, free a Caribbean island and launch Wired magazine's 'patron saint', Marshall McLuhan. And he did it all with a flamboyance that inspired the likes of Tom Wolfe, John Steinbeck and the makers of the counterculture. His name was Howard Luck Gossage. These are his life and times.

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Changing the World Is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man + Creative Mischief: 1 + Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-Thinking the Competition
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Adworld Press (28 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957151500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957151505
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I picked this up while suffering from advanced jetlag - and read it straight through.

I cannot recall anything as well researched or written about any subject or person in the advertising business. Not a duff sentence. And what pictures! Even Gossage's old 1960s offices look damnably cool today.

The writer, Steve Harrison, has the advantage of being a very good copywriter who built up and sold a highly successful agency. If you study these things you can see that a lot of his work reflects the kind of thinking Howard Gossage introduced.

While Ogilvy, Reeves and Bernbach were making news on Madison Avenue, Gossage - a 100% proof madman (very fond of Irish whiskey) - was breaking all the rules old and new on the West Coast.

To be honest, few will appreciate just how good he was, or how good this book is. But then a lot of people think McDonalds is good food.

But if you'd like to know how he managed to make marketing money work about ten times harder than it should, this tells you.

He was doing stuff 50 years ago - perfectly - which foreshadows so much of what people are doing today - imperfectly in most cases. But doing it with extraordinary wit, panache, commitment - and above all results.

David Ogilvy once told me that the secret of success in this business was charm. Gossage had it by the bucket-load.

I knew of him and some of his advertising. But I didn't realise what a trailblazer he was. What a fool! I could have learned so much.

He was decades ahead of his time. They called him The Socrates of San Francisco - no coy understatement on the West Coast.

But he really was something else. He was integrating marketing in the most imaginative ways possible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
All the reviews praising the quality of research and flow of this beautifully written book are bang on, though I'd also like to draw attention to the broader appeal of the content beyond the student of advertising.

As someone who has to market a business with a limited budget I found Steve Harrison's insights into how Gossage created clever campaigns without a colossal ad spend very inspiring.

I love the eloquent examples of successful campaigns that highlight the importance of:

- conversational copywriting
- inviting response and building rapport with the reader
- adjusting campaigns as a result of feedback
- use of long copy in ads
- using ads and articles as a platform for PR

Quite simply, if you are involved in marketing or selling anything and like to read about unsung business heroes and at the same time learn techniques you can use yourself, you'll love this book.

And it's a gem to read; in fact I rattled it off in a couple of days as part of this summer's holiday reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This man deserves our attention 26 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As someone who's studied and worked in communications for a fair while now this book made me feel like a fool for not knowing about Gossage.

This guy was a fascinating character and well ahead of his time. He began interactive, social media well before anyone else (decades before...) and his style and creativity were unmatched. But he also went far beyond that.

He made Marshall McLuhan famous, he saved the grand canyon from drowning and he helped kick-start the modern environmental movement. The 'Socrates of San Francisco' was a fascinating character and I urge anyone with an interest in advertising, media or even environment to have a read of this book.

Harrison is thorough with his research but never heavy, making it a breeze to read. Every line is entertaining and educating and I'm telling everyone around me to have a read of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 23 April 2012
By Denzil
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brilliant book about a brilliant man. Howard Gossage was a true marketing genius and decades ahead of his time. Steve Harrison's thoroughly researched book has made this a riveting read - it's rare that a book with a business theme is so entertaining and actually reads like a novel. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man you ought to know. 20 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An exciting account of a man who everyone ought to know.

See reprints of some incredible adverts, read letters from Gossage to his friends and hear from some of his many admirers and colleagues. Discover the stories that made Howard Luck Gossage the great man that he was.

Steve Harrison's book is very well written. From the moment it came through the door I could barely put it down. Each chapter is split into easily digestible parts making the book effortless to read.

I thoroughly recommend this book, not just to advertisers but to anyone looking for a bit of enlightenment, intelligence and wit.

A longer review can be found here: [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating study of an amazing man 7 Nov 2013
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
American West Coast advertising man Howard Luck Gossage was decades ahead of his time, pioneering interactive advertising, green concerns, PR-stunts and much else in the 1960s, well before they became mainstream aspects of his industry. Steve Harrison's book does justice to Gossage's innovation and superb copywriting skills with its own highly readable and easy to enjoy account of the man and his work.

Harrison isn't starry-eyed about it, however, leaving the reader with reasonable doubts about whether, for example, the Grand Canyon was really in danger of being flooded high with water before Gossage's advertising campaign kicked in or whether the flooding was a hyped-up scare story to turn people against plans that were in reality rather more modest.

Such caveats however never detract either from the pace of the book or from the justifiable overall assessment of Gossage as a major pioneering figure who have been strangely forgotten. If nothing else, Gossage's role in making Marshall McLuhan famous means that the current advertising world and indeed modern society still feels the after-effects of Gossage's life.

Only one small complaint about the book: the reproduction quality of some of the advertisements is poor which, given they are heavy with Gossage's expert copy, means having to seek bright lighting and possibly a magnifying glass at times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life
This book changed my life - as melodramatic as that may sound it's true. As a student of advertising I was surprised to have never heard of Gossage - and if you haven't either then... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lav
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing short of a masterpiece
Howard Luck Gossage is a little known figure who had a big influence on the world of advertising. For example, my boss when I worked as a copywriter at Collett, Dickenson Pearce,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michael Everett
5.0 out of 5 stars At last there is an account worthy of the man
It's a sin that Howard Luck Gossage isn't as well known as the other advertising greats. Whether you work in advertising or related fields or not, this book about a truly... Read more
Published 19 months ago by SergeDNi
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading this book is the only sensible option for a grown man
Now here's something: A book designed to inspire an industry by telling the life story of someone who worked in it during the 1950s and 60s - a time when advertisers appeared only... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mr. I. Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling tribute to the man who rewrote the admen's rules
You have to wonder what Howard Luck Gossage would have made of the "Friend of Gossage" t-shirts now on sale with his iconic ads and charismatic face emblazoned across them. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Eugenie Verney
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
As an advertising student I had heard plenty about mad men but absolutely nothing about Howard Gossage. Read more
Published 22 months ago by CBerzolla
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and an education
I found this book gripping. The title sets the tone and describes a man on a mission.

The interviews that the author had with Howard Gossage's friends and colleagues... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Crispin White
5.0 out of 5 stars sales - or history?
I was interested in sales. But, it's about history too.

If you are interested in advertising at all, then Steve Harrison has produced a must read. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mevlanna
5.0 out of 5 stars From pink air to green planets.
I want to thank Steve Harrison for introducing me to Howard Gossage. It's amazing how people like Gossage can become overlooked and forgotten, especially when you discover the... Read more
Published 24 months ago by R. Irving
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