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The 22 Irrefutable Laws of Advertising (and When to Violate Them)





Book: 'The 22 Irrefutable Laws of Advertising (and When to Violate Them)'

Author:Michael Newman

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, 2004

ISBN: 0470-82106-X

Leader Values

Imagine attending a symposium in which 22 famous advertising gurus get together to tell you how to make great advertising work in the world’s new economy. That is basically what Michael Newman has given us in this admirably compact volume. You can only wonder how he managed to get such an impressive array of experts together in one book – and how he limited them to about ten pages each.

Of course, the “22 Laws” in the title pays homage to the landmark series of 22 Laws of Marketing books by Trout & Ries. Newman contends that it is now advertising’s turn to spell out its laws. Each of the advertising laws is introduced briefly by Newman and then expounded in detail by an appropriate expert. Newman’s chapter introductions effectively tie the book together into a coherent whole, while the varying styles of the different experts maintain freshness and momentum.

Singapore-born Kash Shree, who was educated in England and is now senior vice president and creative director at Leo Burnett in Chicago, discusses The Law of Experience. He points out that everything we experience in life gives us different ways of seeing things – and that is a valuable resource for advertising. He advises “Don’t go straight from college to advertising. Get arrested first. Leave the country. Go out and take your experiences elsewhere.” And he means it! Of course, you might want to be careful what you get arrested for – some law breaking could be seriously career-limiting.

In The Law of Humour, M&C Saatchi’s James Lowther points out that “Humour wins more business for clients than any other tool in the advertiser’s armoury”. He makes his case through an appropriately humorous re-interpretation of the Ten Commandments in advertising terms. He starts with “Thou shalt love thy neighbour – he’s dead funny” and works his way through to the Eleventh (yes, eleventh) Commandment “Thou shalt disobey all the commandments above if that makes it funnier”. And in The Law of Irreverence, Jim Aitchison adds an extra edge to humour by telling us how irreverence in communications makes people take notice.

Although the authors have their own distinctive viewpoints, they often seem to be in violent agreement. In keeping with The Laws of Humour and Irreverence, they all write in an amusing, and at times Politically Incorrect, style. And in case you feel that there is an inherent disconnect in the very idea of putting advertising and law together, MT Rainey of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe gives a fitting 22nd law – entitled The Outlaw. She talks about “the folly of formulas, the rejection of rules and the shame of the same”, stressing that the brain only notices what is different, and ignores the familiar.  So breaking the rules is a necessary element in creating memorable advertising. An entertaining must-read, illustrated with many examples of successful advertising campaigns.

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