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Season Five.
"Terry's Book Club"

Airs Saturday June 11th and Thursday June 16th, 2011.

This week, the Age of Persuasion invites you to our Book Club. I'll be telling stories from my favourite advertising books, and I'll examine the incredible lessons within their pages that have served me well over my entire career. By the way, a few of those books aren't even about advertising. In fact, one is a book about science, and another is about theatre actors.

But each one contains incredible wisdom that can be applied directly to the world of advertising and marketing.

And everyday life, I may add.

Hope you'll join us.

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All of the TV commercials and print elements we referred to in the episode, as well as some bonus materials, are below. Enjoy.

There is a book that is quite famous in the advertising business.

The title is "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour."

From those wonderful folks.jpg

It was written by Jerry Della Femina:

Jerry Della Femina.jpg

The title comes from a meeting that legendary adman Della Femina was in as a young copywriter in the early 1960s.

The agency was sitting around a boardroom table one day, trying to think of a new slogan for Panasonic, the Japanese electronics company. Everybody was sitting there - stumped.

So Della Femina piped up and suggested, "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour."

There was complete silence. Dead silence.

But that was Jerry Della Femina. He was outrageous, brash and willing to shake it up to break the tension. His book is a no-holds barred look at advertising during the Mad Men era.

Another story he tells is the day his agency was pitching a big account. The senior account man was the leading the pitch, and scoped the room to find the most powerful client.

He thought he found him when he spotted a very keen set of eyes across the table. So he locked eyes and directed the entire pitch to this man.

Later, the senior account man realized the set of eyes across the table belonged to a new employee at his own firm - not a client.

He had just laser-beamed the pitch to his own employee.

Lesson: Always find out - ahead of time - where the power resides in the room.

The next book we feature is titled "Leap: A Revolution in Creative Business Strategy."

Leap cover.jpg

Schmetterer was the Chairman and CEO of ad agency network Euro RSCG Worldwide:

Bob Schmetterer.jpg

He tells a fascinating story about an adman in Buenos Aires named Jorge Heymann. He had a client who needed a big advertising campaign to promote a big, new seven-block riverfront real estate development called Madero Este.

The development was located in an historic area on the Rio de la Plata riverbank. But it had one big drawback - it was well off the beaten path.

So the advertising campaign had a clear objective: To generate awareness and drive traffic to the remote complex.

Budget: $4 million.

But as the marketing was taking shape, something bothered Heymann. The typical recommendation - and the one the client was expecting - would have been a comprehensive multi-media advertising campaign that said, "Come to Madero Este."

But Heymann couldn't help but think that given its inconvenient location, a $4 million campaign wouldn't drive the level of traffic that was needed.

So Heymann began to explore other ways to communicate the existence of the Madero Este complex.

Instead of building an ad campaign, Heymann asked: Why not build... a bridge?

Even though the client was expecting an ad campaign, he approved the bold idea of a bridge. The stunning footbridge became a landmark and a symbol of the new Buenos Aires. It eventually generated more publicity than any advertising campaign could have, and brought shoppers out by the thousands:

Madero este bridge.jpg

It was an out-of-the-park homerun.

Lesson: Look at a problem with fresh eyes and don't default to the expected solution.

My next book is titled "The New Advertising" and was written by Robert Glatzer in 1970. The book is about the creative revolution in advertising that changed everything in the 1960s.

On page 53, Glatzer tells the story of how Doyle Dane Bernbach, or DDB as it's now called, helped rescue the Levy's Bread account.

Once upon a time, there was a little Jewish bakery in Brooklyn. For thirty years, it quietly sold bagels, onion rolls and challah to the faithful. Then, trying to expand, it went into packaged ryes, pumpernickel, raisin bread and other trendy products.

Jews stopped buying and gentiles didn't start. Things went from bad to worse, until one day the little bakery went into bankruptcy.

"We want to get our Jewish customers back," the receiver told agency owner Bill Bernbach:

Bill Bernbach.jpg

Bernbach, who was Jewish, tasted the packaged breads and said, "No Jew would eat your bread. If you want more business, we have to advertise to the gentiles."

So DDB created a very witty, very smart print campaign aimed at New York's army of Wonder Bread eaters.

Then DDB created subway posters with one of the most famous slogans in the advertising business. Each ad showed people, like a Cherokee Indian or an Asian, eating the bread with a big smile under the line: "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's." The posters were beautifully designed:

You Don't Have to be Jewish #1.jpg

You don't have to be Jewish #2.jpg

You don't have to be Jewish #3.jpg

The posters were a huge success. The campaign was charming, had a sense of humour, and people loved it. It created an image for Levy's and the bread it made.

But the interesting thing is this - the image wasn't based on logic, facts or information.

The ads asked people who like the advertisements to buy the bread because they like the ads and because the ads represented a company that made eating bread a pleasure.

Most importantly, the campaign substituted emotion for logic.

DDB recognized the bread had no discernable characteristics that might make it better than the competition. No advantages of flavour, nutrition or appearance.

Instead of claiming virtues where there were none, DDB gave Levy's a personality different from that of its competitors - most of which had no personalities at all - and made its name recognizable to New Yorkers.

Lesson: An emotional connection trumps rational facts.

When people feel a connection to a product - if it makes them feel good, or smile, or laugh - they will reach for that product over all others.

You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's.

But you gotta love their thinking.

Our next book is not about advertising or marketing. But rather, it's a science book that I love.

It's called "Hair of the Dog: And Other Scientific Surprises" and is written by Carl Sabbagh:

Hair of the Dog cover.jpg

It's filled with short stories about amazing scientifically-based occurrences that never fail to utterly amaze.

In the book, Sabbagh tells the most amazing story about the after-effects of Hiroshima.

There could be no more drastic test of the effect of radiation on human beings than the explosion of an atomic bomb over a major city.

Here, President Truman addresses the American public after the H-bomb was dropped:

While no one doubts the appalling effects the blast of radiation had on people within a few miles of the explosion, it provoked a question about the possible side effects on the children of the survivors.

It was naturally assumed that the reproductive cells of the survivors received such high doses of radiation that it would cause horrific mutations, leading to defects in their children.

To test this, a commission was set up in Hiroshima to monitor those children to see whether they developed a greater degree of abnormalities and deformities than the equivalent population in other areas of Japan, that had not been exposed to radiation.

75,000 people were followed from childhood to adulthood.

But here's the thing:

The medical histories of the children of the Hiroshima survivors showed no higher rates of radiation-induced illnesses whatsoever.

And if that weren't surprising enough, listen to this:

The children born to atomic bomb survivors were in better health than children of the same age born elsewhere in Japan.

There were fewer stillbirths, a smaller number of deaths from cancer, and lower overall mortality.

They were simply... healthier.

Lesson: You can never assume anything.

The people who leave all assumptions and preconceived notions behind are the ones who create meaningful businesses, movies, books and wise decisions.

After all, who would have ever assumed there would be positive fallout from the H-bomb?

The final book I want to talk about is "The Spectator."

The Spectator cover.jpg

It's comprised of a series of conversations with the leading stage actors and directors conducted by Pulitzer Prize winning broadcaster Studs Terkel:

Studs Terkel #2.gif

In one chapter, Terkel has an extremely interesting conversation with Marcel Marceau, who was the world's greatest mime artist:

In the book, Marceau tells Terkel an interesting story about performing in Japan.

One of his most famous pantomime performances was called "The Staircase." In it, Marcel Marceau climbs what seems to be an unending series of stairs. All alone, on stage, with mime.

In New York, Chicago and San Francisco, the audiences roared with laughter. It became one of Marceau's most famous sketches.

But in Japan, nobody laughed.

The American public found the mime so amusing because they identified with tall buildings and onerous staircases. But in Japan, they didn't laugh, because houses there are small. Stairs have no use.

The miming of walking up thirty flights of stairs didn't resonate with them.

Lesson: People will only laugh if they recognize themselves in comedy or tragedy.

That is also the key to advertising that works, and that people respond to.

It has to be created around an insight that comes from real life. That's why a product or service can connect with huge swaths of individuals who seem to have nothing in common.

Because basic human experience is the most powerful bonding of all.

Even in silent mime...