Marketing Book Worth a Look: Adland by James P. Othmer

August 22, 2015

reading book in field

A good marketing book gives you the inspiration and direction you need to improve your career. A great marketing book does so while keeping you breathlessly entertained throughout. When you find one of those books that inspires and informs while making you chuckle, you know you’ve got a winner.

So fire up the e-reader of your choice (or make a trip to your corner bookstore) and get your copy of the fiercely funny, take-no-prisoners Adland, by James P. Othmer. I added Adland to LinkedIn Marketing’s summer reading list, and I’m excited to offer a deeper dive into why you should check it out.

James Othmer is currently the Executive Creative Director at Y&R NY, and has nearly thirty years in the advertising business under his belt. Adland is part memoir, part history, and part prediction of what marketing’s future might look like.

This Month’s Recommended Reading: Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded PlanetAdland

James had a remarkable ride in the advertising business. As he puts it, he went “from earnest, wide-eyed junior copywriter to big-agency golden boy to disillusioned, bitter corporate burnout, then, briefly, back to golden boy, then to capable veteran, and finally back to corporate burnout, but this time without the bitterness or disillusionment.” Throughout his career, James’s writer’s mind was filing away observations, compiling stories, and thinking about how to make sense of the entire profession.

Why James wrote Adland

As James says in the book’s afterword, Adland “Is simply an attempt to better understand something that has been such a large part of my life, and our culture, for so long.” The result is part memoir of James’ own experience, part history lesson, and part rumination on what shape advertising will take for the next generation of marketers.

Why you should read it

James delivers deep thoughts about this industry—what it is, what it’s worth, and why we do it—with a dry wit and genuine human interest. He’s a great storyteller, too, and his tireless research for the book means he has a lot of stories to tell.

Read Adland to ponder:

  • The intersection of advertising and art
  • The moral implications of the profession
  • How established agencies can keep up with digital innovation
  • Advertising’s role in culture’s past, present, and future

In Adland, James takes heavy concepts and wraps them in razor-sharp prose, then serves them up with a side of self-deprecating humor. It’s a worthy read for any marketer, whether you’re a wide-eyed beginner, a corporate burnout, or anything in between.

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