Book: Ads to Icons

Kogan Page has just published (July 1, 2007) Ads to Icons, a collection of recent advertising case studies compiled by Dr. Paul Springer from Buckinghamshire University in the UK. While the cases are not as in-depth as the ones, say, sold by Harvard Business School at some $60 apiece, and lack the irreverence and the insider angle of the agency-produced books such as Crispin's Hoopla, they are many (50, to be precise) and span much of the new and old media landscape. Even though some of the examples will be already familiar to the readers of this blog, Billboardom, Communication Arts, Contagious, or the earlier reviewed Advertising is Dead! Long Live Advertising!, one of the book's strengths is its international scope with cases from Malaysia, Russia, South America and other places that don't pop up often on the North American ad radar (rADar?).

Ads to Icons is a book that will find its place on the bookshelves across all agency departments. Media planners will enjoy the story about how Mattel promoted its 100% Hot Wheels collectibles in the auto classifieds next to the ads for real cars. Creatives will like the famous Zippo Windproof lighters placed on the top of taxi cabs in Singapore (the original brief was for a small print ad; the entire budget was about $50K at the current exchange rate). Interactives will find out more about the already legendary campaigns of Axe, Burger King, Audi and Monopoly. For the client service suits, the book outlines the original business problems, provides budget numbers where possible, and gives a brief timeline of each project along with (self-reported?) campaign results.

Other high-profile cases include Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, Ikea's outdoor campaign in NY, Nike Run London, Livestrong, Adidas vertical football billboards, but also many others I had never heard about before but I'm glad I did now.

The second part of the book is an introduction into the world of new media. It is not as comprehensive as it might have been in a dedicated book, but has a unique chapter on new advertising professions that have emerged in the past decade. The glossary of terms is also a nice touch (do you know what "football" is?*) and the entire book is well-sourced. Some might find the language a bit dry, but I'll take the dry over the exuberant and the informally verbose any day.

Overall, the wealth of information in the book is well worth the original $47.50 sticker if case studies are what you are after, and it's a bargain at the Amazon's $32. Mine was a review copy.

Other similar books reviewed here earlier are Long Live Advertising! and Life After the 30-second Spot.

* Football: The increased amount of people going into a store as a result of a campaign, used as a measure if the client is retail.


  1. Nice article. Just a note 'football' is actually 'soccer' to you North Americans. 'Footfall' is what you're referring to.

  2. I just hope for the publishers sake all of the ads in there are real and not scam, having been commissioned by the actual main client and run in real media.

  3. yep - they are. Each one of 'em, from every country.


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