The one-sentence summary
It is possible to codify the rules that make a great idea, but equally you might want to ignore them all in search of originality.
- The full title is The 22 Irrefutable Laws of Advertising (and when to violate them) – a series of essays by the great and the good including Dave Trott, Kevin Roberts, James Lowther, and MT Rainey
- There is one on each law, most of which are self-explanatory: Simplicity, Positioning, Consistency, Selling, Emotion, Love, Experience, Relevance, Humour, Disruption, Jump, Fascination, Irreverence, Taste, Topicality, Chat, Nice, Negativity, Execution, Evolution
- Those that need explanation are: The Silver Elephant (the intent to produce something that has never been done before, and the act of carrying it out), and The Outlaw (everything we have told you is a lie, including this)
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
- There are lots of different opinions here, so you are not reading 200 pages all making the same point
- At the end there is a list of crimes against advertising: research, logic, familiarity, self-importance, humanity (cheesiness), atheism (lack of opinion), strangulation by data, interference, pitching for free, and commoditization of the creative product
- The author sets up a decent introduction grappling with the tricky business of how to catch lightning in a bottle (the elusive search for genuine creativity), and “how bad is it, doc?” (a quick rundown on the problems currently facing the advertising industry)
- Anyone experiencing a blockage in their communications should be able to dip into one of the theories and pull out a new approach to their issue
- Dave Trott’s binary brief is particularly useful – the brief is constructed simply by choosing one of only two alternatives to each of the normal questions you would expect to address in a creative brief (not multiple options)
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
- There is no coherent message, so don’t look for one
- The author’s comments on the contributors verge on the sycophantic
- The book is a bit schizophrenic about whether all the laws should be obeyed, or ignored – you choose!