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on November 13, 2012
George Parker spins a very entertaining tale of his life in advertising during the earlier days of modern advertising, covering the same time period as much of the Mad Men television series.

Parker's writing style is light and fresh, written the way he talks, with nothing to hide and no holds barred. It may have helped to hold back just a little. Names were mentioned that perhaps didn't really need to be mentioned, since we might have found it more entertaining to try and guess who he meant. If you're skittish about swearing, avoid this book, because it is laced full of the f-word. While some of that usage was meant to be funny -- and was, at times -- it became tiresome. I was actually annoyed by the overly gratuitous use of foul language, as I felt the book would have been more effective with about 80% less of that, but it was an enjoyable read overall and often laugh-out-loud funny.

Having witnessed many of the same conditions and issues, though coming into the field some 20 years after Parker, I could relate to his experiences and his frustrations with corporate waste and stupidity. Parker's observations about the evolution of advertising are priceless, and I agree with his assertion of where it is headed.

If you're looking for information about advertising itself, this isn't for you as you won't gain insights to producing great advertising. You'll discover some of the processes that take place during the creation of advertising, but no technical insights, and that's exactly the right approach for a book of this nature. However, the final few chapters are a little more introspective and I found them quite valuable. If you're an advertising creative, you'll probably enjoy this.
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on August 11, 2011
George Parker is many things to many people: seasoned copywriter, advertising survivor, blogger...
but in this book, he is a storyteller, and not one of the Aesops Fables 'alls well that ends well' variety. This is more like Phillip K Dick storytelling ...
bad people doing bad things storytelling, the kind that rivets you to your seat, book, Kindle, iPad - whatever - firmly gripped in sweaty hands.

But he tells this tale with such ease and humor that it makes the advertising world seem like a fun place to be. And that's where he gets you ...
amidst all the romping across the globe to shoot spots for bidet cleansers, late night bull session carousing, and exacerbating round table campaign meetings, he carefully delivers the point:
it's a hard way to make a living, populated by an interesting assortment of characters, most of them rather incompetent yet powerful, and you.

A thoroughly enjoyable read for practitioner or apprentice alike, I'll close with 3 good reasons to read this book:

1: He's been there
2: He's done that
3: He's lived to tell the tale accurately and amusingly ...
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on July 24, 2011
George Parker has been in the advertising business a long time. He was part of the British Golden Days, The Mad Madison Avenue years, and even got out to Silicon Valley to weigh in on the internet tsunami that over took the communications world. This man has been around! He also apparently paid attention to the changes that were taking place around him as the big fish, ate the middle sized fish, that ate the small fishies and was not shy to point out the end product that naturally results from all that eating. While his dislikes are many and names are named, his anger is not misplaced. For those of us who have worked in or around the business of advertising all of our lives and loved it, times have indeed changed, people have been forced out, eager young social media savants have taken their place and...well it's the same thing that happens everywhere if something is going to survive. It evolved. George's book should be read by anyone who lived through these changes over the past 40 years not simply for nostalgia but for empathy. It should also be read by those internet/techie/newbies who are looking not for a big idea, but to create an interactive, total experience between the consumer and his toilet tissue. Mostly, its interesting to see how this business started as the wild, wild west and how time, money and stockholders tamed it.
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on July 25, 2011
George Parker, author of the acerbic, profanity-laden blog "AdScam," is a man who knows his stuff. Having worked on many high-profile accounts through his career, he's ascended a kind of bully pulpit from which he blasts the BDAs, BDCs, and BDHCs (Big Dumb Agencies, Big Dumb Clients, and Big Dumb Holding Companies, respectively). For what? For being beholden to the almighty dollar while the advertising itself, and its respect for its audience, suffers. The book is largely a collection of anecdotes; not a memoir per se, but a series of stories and insights to help us understand what the "glory days" of big advertising were all about. Parker is beholden to no one and he pulls no punches. It's a rollicking read, akin to George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London," but a bit more sloppily written, about advertising and not tramping, and full of brand new curse words my Kindle did not recognize. (In my informal study, I found at least four profanities that the Kindle's dictionary blanked on.)

I'd give it five stars but for some poor editing and annoying and unnecessary stylistic choices. There are far too many errors in the book that would have been detected by just one more read-through on the part of a half-way decent editor. Parker's blog is a hasty but powerful blast of words, and this book reflects that burst-like writing style, but it's a book, not a blog and should be treated as such. There are also various references to other parts of the book that are labeled--a story in chapter 4 might reference a story in chapter 3, for example, and there's an explicit instruction to the reader to where the previous anecdote can be found. Really, with a book this short, I think most readers will remember something read in the previous chapter.

But those are minor quibbles that deserve a sigh and shake of the head--and then back to a stiff drink and more stories of heavy drinking, illicit sex, and unfathomable expense accounts! If you like it, be sure to read Parkers AdScam blog regularly, and check out his previous books, especially The Ubiquitous Persuaders and MadScam.
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on August 2, 2011
People in advertising love to make sweeping statements about the business.

Legendary creative director Phil Dusenberry, for example, once said, "Advertising is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes."

Another ad man, Jerry Della Femina (AKA Jerry Della Charisma), is famed for saying, "Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on."

Someone considerably less famous than either one of them - that would be me - once said, "Advertising is the toy department of the business world."

To see why all three of these statements are true, there's no better evidence than George Parker's new book about his life in advertising during its glory years.

I can't vouch for the veracity of George's tales. Was he the boozing, snorting, shagging, swash-buckling character he says he was? Maybe, maybe not.

As I read the book, to be honest, it didn't really matter to me that he might have fudged the facts here and there.

First, it's his story, so, as he would emphatically remind me, you or anyone else who raises the issue, he can tell the tale any way he wants.

Second, George's portrayal of an ad man's life in the 60's, 70's and 80's, including all or most of the over-the-top excesses he relates, is completely plausible to anyone who was there.

Advertising was different then and infinitely better, as George makes perfectly clear throughout the book, particularly when he lobs his verbal grenades at today's BDAs, BDCs and BDHCs.

I've often said that no one really needs to write another book about advertising. That said, George's book is a good, entertaining story well worth the five bucks it costs.

Five stars even though it's filled with typos, misspellings, etc.
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on July 21, 2011
was prepared to dislike it even though the price is the lowest I have paid for a book since Amboy Dukes. I was prepared to dislike it because its title is so derivative (which is to say somebody else is using it). But the author produces the best advertising blog, one of the few that doesn't bubble over with bloggorrhea or self-congratulation and the book is really an uncondensed, unvarnished version of that blog. He captures the period (1960s to 1980s in the advertising business) perfectly and demonstrates that the business prior to public offerings, mergers, consolidation, media buying separated from the creative and production of work, quarterly statements, worldwide pitches run by new business consultants was, if not better, at least one in which the largesse which now goes into management fees to senescent HQs used to go into perfectly shaken martinis, bonuses for the proletariat, and suites with turn down service for the traveling copywriters. If the author seeks absolution through his Confessions, this reader has a perfect penance: three Our Fathers and three Beefeater Martinis with a twist shaken to cold perfection.
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on November 15, 2011
I'm not in advertising. In fact I'm about as far away from the field as possible (aside from watching Madmen).

This book is funny. Really funny. If half of what George Parker wrote is true he is a case study in balls and chutzpah with dashes of brilliance. The whole story on the Agency Fireman... I can't tell you how many times I've told that to other people who loved hearing it.

His writing style is breezy and easy to read. Has a sort of dashed off quality to it. Highly recommended for those who are outside the industry and looking for some good escapist non-fiction... as well as a crash course on creative tla's and new words like douchenozzle.
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on March 3, 2013
I don't know if the actual book was edited any better than the Kindle version, but it was so laden with typos and bad grammar, it was as if it was published with no editing whatsoever. I couldn't finish it.
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on July 26, 2011
George Parker, with his usual wit and endless desire to 'tell it like it is' has depicted the advertising business in a manner that makes this a 'great read' whether you're in the business or not. I highly recommend it to everyone....except my mother (she doesn't need to know what i really did for a living). Bravo, George.
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on January 3, 2013
Atrociously written, horribly repetitive, and devoid of any evidence of actual talent on the part of the author. This is easily the worst book ever written on advertising. It's not surprising really, since the author's entire career seems to have proceeded through a string of second rate agencies, fueled by an alcohol-induced fog, with the occasional addition of one or another drug. The loathing he heaps on the entire business -- clients and agency alike -- makes one wonder why he didn't just go drive cab instead. Don't waste your money!
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