The Book of Gossage – If you want to work in advertising, you need to read this book

The Book of Gossage

by Howard Luck Gossage and Jeff Goodby

Copy Workshop

2006, 308 pages, 8 x 10 x 1 inches (softcover)

$42-$50 Buy a copy on Amazon

Just down the street from San Francisco’s North Beach strip clubs and Beat Museum, I had the privilege of interning for an ad agency located in one of the city’s original firehouses. When I started, I had no idea that the building once belonged to Howard Luck Gossage, an advertising legend. After taking a spin down the firepole I was given a copy of The Book of Gossage and told that if I wanted to work in advertising I needed to read this book. It opened my eyes to how amazing advertising can be, and introduced me to an icon that too few people know about.

The book is dense, as it’s part textbook, part history lesson, and is filled with some incredibly witty and thought-provoking ads. The book collects a bulk of Gossage’s writings where he tackles the big issue: Is Advertising Worth Saving? He also covers topics like: How To Be Creative, The Shape of an Idea, and Our Fictitious Freedom Of The Press.

His ads filled tires with pink air, started the international paper airplane competition, and prevented the Grand Canyon from being flooded. While his creative insights alone would be worth the price of this book, there is also a lot of historic context that’s provided by colleagues, and people who were influenced by his work. Hearing about his charm and love of parties makes you understand why people like Tom Wolfe, John Steinbeck, and Stan Freberg would just hang out at his agency.

As Gossage said himself, “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” If you’re curious about advertising, pursuing a creative career, or just want to learn about a very interesting man, then this book will interest you.

– JP LeRoux

Note: The first edition contains some colored photos of Gossage’s work, while the second edition (linked above) includes a CD-rom with a collection of his work – either is worth picking up.

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