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A Technique for Producing Ideas (McGraw-Hill Advertising Classic) Paperback – 1 Mar 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; New edition edition (1 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780071410946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071410946
  • ASIN: 0071410945
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.5 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

A step-by-step technique for sparking breakthrough creativity in advertising or any field

Since its publication in 1965, A Technique for Producing Ideas has helped thousands of advertising copywriters smash through internal barriers to unleash their creativity. Professionals from poets and painters to scientists and engineers have also used the techniques in this concise, powerful book to generate exciting ideas on demand, at any time, on any subject. Now let James Webb Young's unique insights help you look inside yourself to find that big, elusive idea and once and for all lift the veil of mystery from the creative process.

"James Webb Young is in the tradition of some of our greatest thinkers when he describes the workings of the creative process. The results of many years in advertising have proved to him that the key element in communications success is the production of relevant and dramatic ideas. He not only makes this point vividly for us but shows us the road to that goal."
William Bernbach, Former Chairman and CEO, Doyle Dane Bernbach Inc.

About the Author

James Webb Young was a driving force behind the creation of the modern advertising industry, and is one of advertising's most honored educators and practitioners.


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One day in my last year as an advertising agency executive in Chicago I had a telephone call from the western advertising manager of a well-known magazine. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tozer on 3 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
......that's all it takes to learn how to come up with new & creative ideas, time after time. As Young says, the idea & the technique itself are so plain & logically simple that you may even miss it; despite the fact that the book is only some 48 pages long. It's easy to read & in your haste to learn "the secret" you may finish the book too quickly. Some thoughtful reading is required, so please don't dismiss the book because of its apparent brevity.

The fact that the book has survived successfully for over 40 years in print is testament to Young unique (but not new) teaching.

Although Young does not refer to it, I am reminded of many writers & books that go into great detail explaining the "science of the mind" & the wonderful way the brain [or mind] works & how it can be used to spawn new ideas & create solutions to problems. Sometimes referred to Mental Science, its philosophy & teachings go back thousands of years & weren't fully recognised until around the time of the 1900's.

If after reading this you wish to develop & research this technique further, I would highly recommend Emmet Fox's "Power Through Constructive Thinking".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Sillett on 6 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
How can a book of less than fifty pages, published over sixty years ago, be relevant and useful to us now? Let me count the ways. This is a gem and deserves to be used (important point: not just read, but used) by anyone who wants to come up with more and better ideas, whether being creative is part of your job description, a hobby or simply an important part of how you live your life. Mr Young writes knowledgeably and humorously, outlines a straightforward five-step process - then challenges us to follow it.

Some creative souls may worry that this book will so demystify the process, they may lose their `magic'; that everyone out there, having read this book, will be able to have a go. That's Young's challenge: few of us will believe that producing ideas can really be so simple, and of those that do, few will try. Hi s book shows us the ways and means to do just that.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. R. on 20 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What surprises you first (if you weren't expecting it) is that the book is so very tiny. For £4.99 you don't get many words for your money, and the first ten pages are introductions and a preface. However, once you get into it, its brevity is its charm. I suspect that readers divide into two camps. The ones who think he's right (and probably already follow Young's methods) and the ones who don't (and probably don't). I'm pitching my tent in the first.
As Young said, he's wasn't afraid to give away his secrets because he was certain that hardly anyone would be prepared to put the work into step one. His five step method is simple but not easy. It's a bit like writing a guide to joining an orchestra and giving step one as passing grade eight violin, with distinction. He also suggested that you never stop observing and recording everything you notice in your daily life. The other thing I particularly like, but which isn't part of modern business, is allowing yourself time to do something completely different. Young reckons that you have to give your brain a pleasant distraction while your massed collection of many possible combinations of thoughts unconsiously comes up with the big idea.
You might have your big idea while you're relaxing in the bath, but it won't happen if you haven't studied all the possible options beforehand.
Great thinkers of the past permitted themselves a breathing space to solve problems. Brindley, the Duke of Bridgewater's canal engineer, used to retire to bed to think until he had come up with his solution. Imagine suggesting that to your boss.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By dbahagoldconsult@hotmail.com on 28 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Although it is not a very new book (about 50 years old), its significant, simplified, and disciplined way for innovative thinking is just as effective and valuable as the day it was first published. I am sure you will fall in love with the book so much that it will take an hour to read. Enjoy reading!
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By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 19 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
This booklet (28 pages) was originally published in 1940 and some new material was added twenty years later. The Foreword to the edition I have (published by Waking Lion Press in 2009) was provided by William Bernbach (1911-1982), one-time chairman and CEO of what was Doyle Dane Bernbach, then renowned for many of the greatest ads in the 20th century. The booklet's author, James Webb Young (1886-1973), added a "Prefatory Note" in 1960. His first publication, How To Become An Advertising Man (1963), focuses on core concepts that every ad practitioner and copywriter should know:

o Knowledge of Propositions
o Knowledge of Markets
o Knowledge of Messages
o Knowledge of Message Carriers
o Knowledge of Trade Channels
o Knowledge of How Advertising Works
o Knowledge of The Specific Situation

Today, these core concepts continue to provide the "basics" on which all effective marketing depends when attempting to create or increase demand for the given product and/or service and multi-media advertising is without doubt advertising's most powerful resource. However, for at least the past 75 years, everything begins with a compelling idea.

In A Technique for Producing Ideas, Webb offers what he characterizes as a "simple, five-step formula anyone can use to be more creative in business and in life! " Although the process itself is indeed simple, completing it to achieve the given results is a wholly different matter. Webb's focus is on the process by which to generate ideas. "They appear just as suddenly above the surface of the mind [like a lovely atoll above the surface of a deep blue sea]; and with that same air of magic and unaccountability.
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