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)


  • 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)


  • 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!