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The Anatomy of Humbug: How to Think Differently About Advertising

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  19 reviews
How does advertising work? Does it have to attract conscious attention in order to transmit a ‘Unique Selling Proposition’? Or does it insinuate emotional associations into the subconscious mind? Or is it just about being famous... or maybe something else?

In Paul Feldwick’s radical new view, all theories of how advertising works have their uses – and all are dangerous if
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Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published January 19th 2015 by Matador
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Tom Ewing
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He might resist the term, but Paul Feldwick has written a brief intellectual history of advertising, one that tells the story of the different ways the ad industry has thought of itself. Whether advertisers present their work as the application of art, science, or common sense, it rests on assumptions and axioms that go back decades - but often have very shallow foundations.

The first part of the book is a battle between the two main theories of advertising - "rational persuasion" on the one hand
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Henry Manampiring
Essential Read for Advertising and Marketing People! Feldwick went through the history of modern advertising, its school of thoughts, and shows to readers that many modern day debates on the subject are really old topics. From research vs intuition, to functional vs emotional, Feldwick shows that perhaps the debates are unnecessary. In fact, we may have had all the wisdom in hand about making great communication had we not been distracted by industry quarrels.

VERY recommended for Advertising an
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Tomas Ramanauskas
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the book to read when you begin to wonder if you've read almost everything on advertising. And what a reward - Paul Feldwick cleverly sieves the popular theories of what advertising is, teaching us an invaluable lesson - never settle for one religion. They all have something and he illuminates the worthy parts with stories and context. So good, you'll read it twice and more.
Jake Goretzki
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This is a superb little work that I’d recommend to anyone who works around branding and advertising.

It’s welcome, firstly, because it provides an almost unprecedented look back on the history of the advertising world and past orthodoxies - from ‘salesmanship in print’ (fair point) to the still-won’t-go-away sixties ‘USP’ (go away). It reminds us that, as with the ancients, the debates from a century ago offer lessons for today and - you know what - not so very much has changed.

From the off, a r
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Laura Pugh
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
As an ad agency strategist, I found this helpful and interesting - although you don't need advertising experience to follow it, as it's very clear and digestible. The book takes you through the theories of advertising of the past (but still very much present in today's thinking), broadly grouped by Feldwick into 'salesmanship' (inc. USP, AIDA, 'Reason why' etc) and 'seduction' (system 1 thinking, motivation research etc.), with a third section detailing various other theories and comparing them ...more
Prudence (Marina Puente)
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book beautifully written, a must-read for a planner or anyone working in communications. Fieldwick presents a sort of literature review of all the theories of how advertising works.

The book finds the sweet spot between practical and academic grounding, although sometimes academic theories are dropped in without any other explanation eg. Likelihood Elaboration Model, Comte or Foucault.

I borrowed this book but loved it so much I will purchase for myself.
Uri Baruchin
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is in my 'if you only read one book about advertising' position.
It delves into the history of Advertising and shows where the current paradigms come from.
Then it presents the different ways we can see how that discipline works.
I believe he also exposes the current 'digital optimisation' obsession for what it is - simply a swing (back) to one side of an argument that doesn't take us any further and is most certainly detrimental to good work.
Marianna Zelichenko
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
This one came highly recommended, but I couldn't get into it. The anecdotes are interesting enough, but apart from presenting a great historical overview there's not a whole lot I feel I've learned from this book.
Raghu Vinay
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A clear and brief explanation of the advertising thought process through the decades from Hopkins to Byron sharp. What I liked in this book is the balance between the details and breadth of topics covered. It helped me to understand and analyse the flow of advertising as a science and art.
Daniel Revelino
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is good for giving us insight how advertising man used to work. Some points may contradict each other. But, this book will changes how we see an ad.
Clark Nguyen
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book broadened my mind in this advertising world. It made me see this world in many different ways
S.P. Moss
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have lost track of how many discussions, arguments and debates I have had about how advertising works. How many articles, papers, blog posts and books I've read. How many talks, lectures and seminars I've been to. And at the end of it, there is no Holy Grail.

A breakthrough moment came to me a few years into my career when the agency Hall and Partners leapt onto the UK market research scene with an MRS paper, a philosophy and methodology that seemed eminently sensible to me: advertising works i
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Darren
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, engaging, informative and very more-ish: No, this is not advertising humbug. Will you look at advertising in the same light ever again?

The author seeks to get you thinking about how advertising works, building upon the science and theories of advertising gurus over the past century or so to develop a fairly open, forward-thinking plan of what should work. The results may surprise you, even if you think you know the industry well. Essentially the author believes there is no one, true
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Hamid
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: admarpr
I've got a lot of time for Paul Feldwick. I had the opportunity to meet him and discuss his thoughts on brands and he's as perceptive as he ever was. And this book illustrates it.

Too much of advertising thought is focused on the now and the next. Not enough looks back at the past, except in a dismissive or light fashion. In this book Paul looks at the current narratives that pervade advertising thought - The Enlightenment, The Golden Age, The Year Zero Narrative - and then takes us through the
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Kim
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Anatomy of Humbug is a thought provoking book about the driving forces behind the last ~150 years of advertising. It chronicles the movers and shakers and the beliefs they pioneered for their time and place. We go full circle from lots of facts and copy to precious little facts but more feel good factor.

I loved the Madison Avenue 50s-60s era as that seems the most explosive. Having watched and loved Mad Men, I am geared to appreciate the genius of the time.

I don't know that I walked away wit
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Greg
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
The Anatomy of Humbug talks about the different advertising theories dominating the advertising world. It discusses the differences as well as the synergy among those.

What I like about this book is its direct presentation of the theories as experienced by a practitioner. It is written for those who are working in advertising field.

Although already pointed out by the author, I think that the book will be more effective by putting some examples of ads as he discusses them.
Albéric Maillet
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a junior in strategic planning, I have benefited greatly from this reading. Insightful and timeless thoughts for modern planners, as well as a great tribute to advertising thinking.
Nick Blunden
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has ever thought about how advertising really works this is a must read. Of course there is no definitive answer but this may well be the definitive review of the contenders.
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