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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Bookshop – Business Fiction Books

 

The Marketing Code, Stephen Brown Marshall Cavendish 2006
This book is a riot. Written by a marketing lecturer in Northern Ireland author of the excellent Wizard it is of course a spoof about the Da Vinci code - a gallop in the spirit of Dan Brown from Edinburgh to Belfast to Chicago dodging corpses and killers on the way. Of course the Code has to be about conspiracy theory and the book plots the uncovering of the marketing conspiracty presided over by the mysterious Kate Phillips. Any resemblance to Phil Kotler of course is entirely circumstantial. In fact there's even a review by the great man himself on the cover of my copy. This is a fun read with lots of outrageous punning and send ups about marketing academia and marketing consultancy. I don't think it will revolutionise your views on marketing but you will enjoy reading it. Highly recommended.
 
 
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kingdom.com, Thom Braun Canterbury Press 2003
This is a novel about a planning director! No really. Who gets an idea about building the agency's credentials by helping the church to get itself up to date. By using modern promotional techniques. It is written by a marketing director within Unilever. This caught my attention because on an off for the past 10 years I have actually been involved in helping to develop advertising for churches. So you might say I have an interest - though no one working in this territory has ever mentioned the book to me. Its a very peculiar read. I couldn't decide if it was a satire about how a religious organisation embraces commercialism wholeheartedly or an exploration of faith and business. And the sense of unease grew as the planning director who collaborates and eventually marries the lady vicar unleashes a rash of what amounts to sponsorships and sales promotions to boost attendance. It turns out to be extremely successful so eventually the Church of England goes for a flotation. But the more successful the new approach is the more handwringing goes on by the very two people who started it of. Without ever saying what exactly they are unhappy about. If you;re uncomfortable about running sales promotions around services then why start in the first place. And it really isn't clear what would be acceptable and where the line has to be crossed. In short its a muddle and a very annoying one. While the flotation is happening the planning director and his new missus (now heavily pregnant) go off to a hotel in Norfolk. Which is full so they have to stay in the stable mews where prematurely she gives birth to a son. Familiar anybody? And just too surreal.
I really can't recommend this book. It can't decide what it is and is neither side splittingly funny or insightful about the interrelationship between faith and business..
 
 
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E, Matt Beaumont Harper Collins 2000
Its back in print again. This is the funniest and paciest introduction to life in a London advertising agency I know. It was a best seller in its time and enjoyed by people who had nothing to do with advertising and didn't want to largely because it confirms all the things which people have always suspected about advertising agencies. The difference between this and the tired expose of our shoddy trade is that Matt Beaumont patently loves the nonsense of the ad business. This book is a celebration of it. Probably part of the novelty was that when it came out ad agencies had email but email as a communication was quite new. So the excesses of indiscreet posting were a genuine novelty which spam, SMS, virals and blogging have gradually inoculated us against. A worthy classic.
 
 
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Simple truth about advertising, Duval Guillaume 1997 self published
Not exactly fiction but so luminously wonderful I've put it here as well as in Advertising. My favourite book about advertising. I met Guillaume at the IAA conference in Jordan in 2005 - one of the nicest people I have met in ages. He wandered onto the platform to talk about creativity apparently without an idea as to what he was going to talk about. And got the audience eating out of his hand. As a creative, creative director and agency founder he has a string of awards after his name. You will have seen his ad for Zazoo condoms with the kid losing it in the supermarket aisle. And his work on Virgin Atlantic where Branson hands out cash to help out travellers who insist on paying more to travel with competitors. Well here is a gem. The book has been out for 10 years - a little primer on how to create advertising. If you want a preview then check out his website where you can flip through some pages yourself and order it online. Elegant, witty, thought provoking. And original. Like the best creative work. I'm not on a back hander! I really like it that much.
 
 
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£9.99, Frederic Beigbeder 2002 Picador
Check out the page in the In their own words section dedicated to £9.99 Includes an interview with the author
 
 
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Sales promotion techniques and how to use them, Alan Toop 1991 Gower
Good books about sale promotion are as rare as a hen's tooth. Partly because the core selection process is so simple that you might think there's not a lot more to it than deciding if it is about instant win versus voucher redemption. Far from it. And here's the next problem. When sales promotions experts get into detail then the strategy tends to get lost. This book is out of print but you can still get it on Amazon and if you have anything to do with sales promotion you should. It is cast in the form of a novel. Several sales promotion agencies pitch for a particular piece of business - they all take different tacks including intersesting an early green promotion idea. An easy way to learn the basics of promotional strategy.
 
 
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Its not luck, Eliyahu Goldratt 1994 Gower
Sequel to the Goal (see below) Alex Rogo is back freshly promoted to running a group of companies. Surely he can't apply the theory of constraints to turn the group around now? And now his teenagers are playing up too. A very accessible read about an interesting aspect of management.
 
 
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The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt 1989 Gower
Is a fantastic book. Look - it's a novel so read it next time you're on the beach. Its all about improving productivity by using constraints rather than bitching about them. Alex Rogo turns his failing company around. And save his marriage using the same techniques (yeah right!)
 
 
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Up the agency, Peter Mayle 1990 Pan
He wrote A year in Provence. Ah but before that he was an adman. So this is a breezy and irreverent introduction to agency life. Very droll. And true.
 
 
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