Creative Mischief Paperback – 1 Dec 2009
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DAVE TROTT is not only a brilliant advertising copywriter, but a great team leader. He now shares his thoughts about how you do advertising and run departments. His ideas are equally applicable to writing a novel, making a film, launching a product, managing a football team, instituting life changes and any activity you can imagine. Genius. --The Sunday Times
About the Author
Dave Trott got a Rockefeller Scholarship to go to art school in New York. There he discovered advertising that was changing the way companies talked to consumers. He trained on Madison Avenue at the end of the Mad Men era, when the three-martini lunch and golf course advertising was for dinosaurs, and the creative revolution was just starting. After 4 years, to avoid getting drafted for Vietnam, Dave came back to London. He spent ten years at BMP working with, and learning from, the legendary John Webster. Some of the advertising he worked on was: Ernie the Milkman for Unigate. LipsmackinthirstquenchinacetastingmotivatinggoodbuzzinhighwalkingfasttalkingcoollivinevergivincoolfizzinPepsi. Gercha with Chas & Dave. He left to open one of the most influential and anti-establishment agencies of the 1980s: GGT - an agency that produced: Hello Tosh Gotta Toshiba ; Aristonandonandonandon (quoted in a speech by Margaret Thatcher); the Lurpak Butter Man; Red Rock Cider with Leslie Nielsen; You can break a brolley but you can t K-nacker a K-nirps ; the LWT poster campaign that received death threats from the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini; the Cadburys poster campaign that caused Indians to threaten to burn their factories; the London Dockland s campaign that the Kray brothers objected to; the LWT poster that an Arsenal manager claims got him the sack; the Sekonda campaign that ended up on the front page of The Sun; the Walkers Poppadum ad that the Daily Mail labelled racist; the Holsten Pils campaign featuring Griff Rhys Jones and dead Hollywood film stars; and a controversial multi-media campaign, made entirely for free, that helped get the Third World Debt discussed by the world s governments. Dave Trott has worked with Benny Hill, Ian Dury, Ken Livingstone, Spike Milligan, Alan Sugar, Bob Geldof, Stephen Hawking, Peter Cook, Ridley and Tony Scott, Hugh Hudson, and Alan Parker. Since the mid-seventies Dave has trained generations of creative directors working and winning awards in advertising today. Apart from advertising, his interests are art, philosophy, football, and creativity in general.
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Before I go into details, I would recommend that if you're involved or interested in advertising, PR, communications or marketing, then this book is applicable to all those disciplines. Another reviewer has suggested that this is "more a guide to life in general" - to which I would disagree, although certainly, some of the principles could be relevant to "life". The bias is certainly towards advertising - although this is NOT a how manual in how to succeed in advertising.
The first thing I noticed about the book was that it was in a very handy size - it's not a pocket book, but it's small enough that it's easy enough to carry around (you could put into the pockets of a coat/jacket). I managed to read through it in a couple of hours. The paper quality is very good and the lines are nicely spaced out.
The book is divided into 62 "chapters" which are essentially very short stories covering Trott's professional and, occasionally, personal experiences. Some are a page long, others a few pages long. They're not in any sort of order (either chronological or in terms of telling a specific story). The stories are engaging and witty - there are no "thou shall do this" or "thou shouldn't do this" - Trott doesn't go about telling you how to lead your life; he doesn't preach; and nor does he tell you how to succeed in advertising - he's simply telling you the lessons he has learned over the course of his distinguished career; the things he did well and the things he screwed up on. Whether you take note and change your behaviour is entirely up to you. There's a good balance of funny stories and those that are more straight to the point. Trott comes across as very black and white - there are times when he pulls no punches. He either likes something, or he doesn't. There's no sitting on the fence with him.
Each story is a little nugget - there are no superfluous details. They cover behaviour, teamworking, sharing ideas, how he won accounts, how he pushed himself, lateral thinking, visual communication, copywriting and opening your eyes to possibilities and opportunities.
The reason I've given the book 4 stars is some of the stories seemed a little repetitive, but this shouldn't detract from what is a very good book. It's not just aimed at those in advertising - anyone involved in any of the creative/communication disciplines would find this book highly informative. As Trott says in his introduction "For me there are two requirements from anything I read: learn something or be entertained" - this book does both.
Dave Trott has a marvellous way to take small stories from everyday life/historic events/his experience in the adbusiness or private life - and tie them together to great insights about life, creativity and successful advertising.
He has a funny way of hitting the "enter" key after every complete sentence. Somehow it just adds to the feel that these words have been chosen with utmost care, and that the sentence simply is cut in rock.
The short stories in this book (very much like his great blogs) are perfect for a few minutes reading, like when riding the bus to work. I bet I'll have this book as my travel companion soon again.
As someone who's been writing ads for years, and teaching advertising almost as long, I found Dave Trott's book refreshing and extremely smart. An art director asked me what I was reading. I showed him a chapter("Being Right vs Being Interesting") and he said, "I'm going to use some of that the next meeting I'm in." So it's useful too. What Dr. Spock is to children, Dave Trott is to clients. I imagine most of them were tractable in his hands. Also, Trott's view of Ogilvy vs Bernbach is something I agree with (old school vs new ideas, though a friend at Ogilvy recommended it). The only thing wrong with the book is that now I want to meet Trott, and he's a continent away. By the way, the book costs as much as $230 in the US, which makes the U.K. price a steal.
Be warned - may cause you to laugh out loud on public transport - only to receive strange looks from fellow commuters.