on March 18, 2011
A fantastic journey through the most influential ads that have shaped the industry. From P.T. Barnum's tricks to DeBeers creating a market for a shiny rock, this book is full of wonderful ad history. Twitchell explains the genesis of many types of ad techniques and how many of them are embedded in the ads we see today. Love the book. Highly recommend it.
on March 6, 2002
It's hard to say what makes a good ad. Is it humor? Memorability (yeah, I know that's not really a word. So sue me!)? Clarity?
The book talks about a lot of different types of ads, including some very old ones such as for Pear's Soap. That was particularly interesting to a layperson such as myself.
However, it didn't cover Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" or anything from Alka-Seltzer, both of which are very memorable - and the Wendy's ad cropped up during a Reagan-Mondale debate in 1984!
I would also have liked to have seen some more recent trends covered, such as the MTV style of advertising, or the ironic/nasty ads (e. g. for rental cars companies that show accidents).
A good read, but could use a makeover.
on January 7, 2001
20 ads from the last century which are fascinating to examine. Each may appear simple on the surface, but as Twitchell closely analyses these ads he reveals that they are profound in nature. As a museum of art has great pictures, a museum of advertising would include these 20 profound ads. These are ads which even today stand out as great successful works of advertising even though the product they advertised may no longer exist. These ads not only sell, but they changed the way we sell things. They are groundbreaking. There's the 1962 ad that made a small Volkswagen Beetle look better than a large Oldsmobile or Buick or Dodge. There's the 1942 advertisement that got commuters to stop complaining about the lousy passenger railroad service. There's the very successful and long running ad campaign that gave the attribute of flight to ordinary tennis shoes. There's advertising campaign that made an ordinary toothpaste a best seller, and the advertising campaign that took an ordinary shirt and made it special. There's the advertising campaign that gently shepherded our society so consumers to pay a large sum of money for a gemstone, and the advertising campaign that gently guided our society into accepting a radically new product.
Twitchell analyses them all. I found it fascinating.
on April 29, 2000
While it includes several amusing anecdotes, such as the origin of Marlboro Man's tattoo, "Twenty Ads That Shook the World" is disappointing. The analysis surrounding the rather obviously chosen ads in the book is largely regurgitated from Twitchell's otherwise superb Adcult USA. Sadly, despite the Wired-esque fluorescent pink and yellow dust jacket, Mr. Twitchell also manages to completely miss the Internet and its effect on advertising.
Readers interested in the collision commercialism and society should opt for Twitchell's earlier "Adcult USA," while students of advertising can find deeper insights about what makes ads tick in Judith Williamson's "Deconstructing Advertisements."
Has Twitchell become, as David Ogilvy would put it, an extinct volcano? I certainly hope not - but this book makes me wonder.