By Andrew Essex
240 pages, hardcover, $27.00
Published by Spiegel & Grau
Colorful, considered and appropriately convincing, Andrew Essex’s clarion call for the $600 billion advertising industry has a startling central proposition: advertising as we know it is close to extinction. Which, given his experience as a self-confessed “recovering Mad Man” and former chief executive officer of New York ad agency Droga5, makes it a highly compelling read. Bold in its proclamation of an industry in peril, this compact volume centers on the recent introduction of adblockers—enabling us to limit the advertising we consume—as an inescapable threat labelled by Essex as “Adblockalypse Now.”
Before offering insight into navigating this challenging era, Essex embarks on a fast-paced dissection of advertising as it stands, looking backward as well as forward. He plots the origins of an industry that has moved mountains (and sold grandmothers) to shape consumerism today, bringing us up to date with engaging tales that range from Bayer’s attempt at marketing heroin around the beginning of the twentieth century to today’s holy grail—a Super Bowl ad slot.
The key tenet throughout is the need for brands and agencies to connect in different ways with their audience. Lego’s well-executed The Lego Movie and Citibank’s sponsorship of New York’s bike-rental program are praised as examples of brands opting to add value to people’s lives, which Essex claims fosters a more meaningful and longer-term relationship. Ending with a ten-point manifesto for better advertising, Essex’s book is essential reading for those agency leaders willing to safeguard their staff and—in the author’s words—“set a course against the current.” —Ben Olsen