I will admit that this book is a couple of years old, it was released in 2015, and I will also admit up front that I am NOT a big fan of Russel Howcroft – as he appears on Gruen Transfer on Australia’s ABC Television Network; But what I really, really, REALLY hate to admit – is that I like his book. And I kind of (no actually – I DO…) hate myself for that!
A bit of background: Russel is a former adman, and the public face of brand marketing and advertising in Australia. Mainly due to his regular appearances on the ABC series Gruen Transfer (a tv series about advertising on a tv station that doesn’t run ANY advertising – now simplified to just GRUEN – I may do a review of the show at a later date and can highly recommend it for students of advertising). Now Russel does know ads, he has worked for the best agencies in the world, ran his own agency, was chairman of the Australian Federation of Australia, and more.
But I personally don’t like Russels take on advertising (at least the way it is presented in the panel discussions on the Gruen Transfer) and that is my own bias. But when I was given his book as a present I put off reading it for many, many years – until recently when I had scrapped the bottom of the barrel for something to do one cold and wet day, and picked up WHEN ITS RIGHT TO BE WRONG to waste a half hour with – sadly… I actually enjoyed it!
Russels book is essentially powerful little snippets and ideas that have been condensed down to their core message and distilled to create a powerful lessons for copywriters and radio sales people.
Don’t believe me – here is one example chosen from random in the book: #58 SELL IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD.
“It’s incredible how often we shy away from saying ‘sell it’. I suspect that this is an Australian thing. It’s an American trait to sell, but in Australia we offer the opportunity to buy instead. Give me a break.”
Yes Russel is honest, sometimes a bit raw – but I found that appealing.
“We are all salespeople. Look at selling as a creative endeavour. In order to get a sale you have to seduce, persuade, inform, cajole and think, think, think.”
That’s why I think that copywriters make the best sales people (NOT the other way around!)
There are tips inside the book about changing your perspective, changing your mind, and giving you permission to be wrong, and then to do something about it.
About finding, uncovering, building on and expanding then fighting for ‘ideas’ – because THEY ARE WORTH IT!
My only issue with the book – and if you have read my other reviews I think you will see this coming – Russel, like so many people who get book deals – writes about TV, about newspapers, posters, products, billboards, the internet… and do you see what is missing from this list? NO RADIO!
So yes it’s a great book that will inspire you to create ideas, build on them, give you confidence to tell your clients why they should run with your idea, and what to do when it doesn’t work – but most importantly – it gives you permission to sell to clients, and to consumers – and I think THAT is something that we all need from time to time.
Honestly its a great read, and if you are not blinded by your bias (like I was) you may have already read this book. It IS a really good read!