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The Insanity of Advertising: Memoirs of a Mad Man Hardcover – December 1, 2013
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"I have been raving about the book. A great, entertaining read and a rare example of a frank, passionate and talented guy achieving such success and results."
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Goldberg doesn't pull any punches when it comes to talking about unsavory clients, competitors and co-workers; he tells it like it was. At the same time, he admits his own mistakes and regrets. You get his honesty, sometimes wincing as he says it, but you appreciate it. Unless, maybe, you're the one on the other end of his tirades.
Learn who the people were truly behind the best-known Superbowl commercial that announced the Apple Macintosh computer in 1984. Many people took credit, but Goldberg knows because he was the account manager at the time.
Learn about the foibles of large companies and celebrities whose egos stood in the way of creative advertising.
Learn what John Wayne once told Goldberg to shove up his a**.
Great stuff by a smart guy with cojones!
I have known Fred Goldberg for over 30 years, observing his style and work both up close and from afar. He is brusque, direct, and sometimes crude (this book has some of the best put-downs of pompous asses, pretentious braggarts, and liars I have seen in print)—the antithesis of the smooth, glib Don Draper like characters portrayed on screen. But there was never any question that he was a solid businessman, dedicated to his clients, supportive of his best workers, and a relentless driver for great advertising.
While those in the ad business who have aged into Medicare will be familiar with both the situations and personalities profiled, this book has value for every entrepreneur and innovator today. Great advertising forges a bond between advertiser and consumer informed by insights about motivation, and executed with relevant communication with great production values.
Some of Fred’s management principles will be helpful to any entrepreneur.
Build the team with quality people, reward excellence, and keep standards high. By far the best part of the book describes how Fred negotiated his deal to buy the agency from Jay Chiat, and then built his team with the best quality people he knew, who stayed with him. He gives gracious credit to his partners and is particularly effusive about his COO and strategist Mike Massaro, whom he credits with much of GMO success in the tech industry. It was Mike’s knowledge of tech that enabled the creative genius of Mike Moser and Brian O’Neill to flourish. Fred used the analogy, “It is not the Army, it is the Marines” to guide his compensation philosophy to reward handsomely the performers who go beyond the expected rather than just give everyone similar salary increases. Great way to raise the performance bar!
Watch expenses; profit can be easily squandered: Consciously, Fred was diligent and careful with expenses, keeping overhead low. He paid and rewarded his best people gleefully, but was quick to fire laggards. Even travel and entertainment were scrutinized with an eye to show the client that the agency was not extravagant with client money.
Fight for great ideas: Fred conveys many anecdotes showing how he fought for and prevailed for ideas that would have never been produced. One of the foibles in advertising is that many clients often do not know how to comprehend and evaluate ideas. In every business, management should be aware that ideas face a gauntlet. Too many good ideas are strangled in the crib because they are screened out or modified to mediocrity before senior management can evaluate them. However, this would have been a stronger book if Fred had ‘fessed up to the reality that being on the cutting edge can also mean great failures get recommended and approved with the same ardor as the successes. The illustrious Chiat/Day creative team Lee Clow and Steve Hayden, who conceived “1984”, the following year also created the 1985 Superbowl spot Lemmings . One of the great disasters in advertising annals!
Be prepared, work hard, and know the client’s business: Good client partnerships are necessary to build the trust to create good advertising. Fred built solid client relationships and worked hard to keep them. He set a personal example for his management team; they in turn devoted themselves to their clients.
One can debate whether the era of brand image advertising has really passed its time. Certainly the mega-companies that have defined customer in use experience of technology delivered products and services such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and even Apple no longer see brand image mass media advertising as core to their business growth. However, that does not diminish Fred’s accomplishment to build an advertising service business from a small company with annual revenues of $58 million to $500 million in just nine years. He was at the helm, an inspiration for any entrepreneur. If the Ad business is insane, then Fred showed there was definite method to his form of madness.
Jeff Saperstein was employed at FCB assigned to Levi Strauss & Co advertising between 1978-83. He is co-author of Service Thinking: The Seven Principles to Discover Innovative Opportunities, Business Expert Press, 2013.
This is one of those books you try to read slowly, even if you're a fast reader, because it's so enjoyable you don't want it to end.
What's especially fascinating about this book is the absolute insider's view of not just the advertising business, but some of the biggest and most iconic corporations and famous entrepreneurial icons we have all heard of; Steve Jobs and Apple, Michael Dell and Dell Computers and a pantheon of other famous people and companies;all of whom he worked for and with.
Goldberg doesn't hesitate to call it what it is; the sometimes idiotic or arrogant egotists and their decisions as well as those who he admired and thought were geniuses. He doesn't pull any punches when it comes to calling some of them jerks and why - and as for the ones he admired, just why he admired them.
This is a book you will read more than once. It's that good and so full of fascinating details (how could he remember so much in such detail?) that you'll want to go through it again.
I give it five stars only because they won't let me give it six. Read this book.