I get lots of books to review. To be honest, most of them I don't, because I am a really, really busy guy, and am in great demand... He said modestly. So, a quick scan determines if the book is of any interest to me and the readers of AdScam, or, they are complete rubbish, and an insult to my superior intelligence.
However, right now, I've just finished a cracker... "Think Small."
Yeah, you guessed it; this is about VW advertising... But it's actually a lot more than that. Firstly, it's a small book... Really small, (see the picture of the hand holding it) and it's not a book about VW advertising in general. It's a book about one VW ad in particular.
Written by Swiss Creative, Dominik Imseng, it packs a lot of information into its 160 pages, including the little known fact that there were actually three versions of the iconic ad. But before the advertising there's a lot of good stuff about the car itself, including the fact that it was first used by the Nazi SS, then later in World War II by the "Desert Rat" Rommel before "Monty" kicked him out of North Africa. No wonder VW's are so popular here in Idaho, the Fourth Reich.
There's also a lot of good stuff about the early days of DDB before they picked up the VW account - Which both David Ogilvy and Howard Gossage turned down - As usual, George Lois claims he came up with everything, including "Poisoned Gas," but as Dominik points out, George only worked on the VW Bus, not the car!
As expected, the agency/client relationship between DDB and VW was one that virtually doesn't exist these days: i.e. one of complete trust. And even though I already knew it, it was refreshing to read again that amongst Bill Bernbach's many dicta was his policy of never dumping an account in order to take on a bigger rival. Something else you won't see much of in most ad agencies these days.
There's a ton of information on Bill, Ned, George, Julien, Bob, Phyllis, Helmut and the others who made DDB what it was. You know, all those people today's young people in advertising have no idea about. But you will if you buy this book.
Just one black mark though. Rip out the last chapter and throw it away. It's called "The New Bernbach," and is an interview with Alex Bogusky. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentson... "I knew Bill Bernbach, and you sir, are no Bill Bernbach." Bill Bernbach would never have written a diet book whilst peddling burgers and pizza to kids.
Otherwise, "Think Small" is a great book about great advertising.