Truth, Lies & Advertising
Maxwell, Ann, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
Truth, Lies & Advertising. Jon Steel. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998. 298 pp. $29.95 hbk.
One of the best minds in the advertising industry humbly reveals his thinking about the business of advertising campaign development. Not a prescriptive, how-to book, Truth, Lies & Advertising presents a philosophical point-ofview telling and showing what happens when consumers are included in the advertising development process.
The author, a product of the British educational system, uses intelligence, humor, strong logic, and insightful metaphors to make his points. An iconoclast, he questions the adequacy of solely applying the scientific methodology to advertising-related problems; makes a case for advertising efficiency versus advertising effectiveness; and recognizes the value of quantum theory as a model for dealing with change, seizing risk as opportunity.
This book is not just about account planning. As Steel writes, "...this is at the same time a book about advertising, a book about planning, and also a book about human relationships...." This book shines a beacon of honesty on current values affecting advertising practices. Up for critical examination is the belief that advertising enjoys the same offhanded privilege as "high art." Equally scrutinized is the idea that a campaign only works when "numbers" can support it.
Steel identifies controversial issues in advertising practice and with the use of examples shows how the handling of these issues can advance or thwart a campaign in development. Issues examined include pretesting creative ideas; over-reliance on poorly conceived research; poor formulations of research questions; reliance on a particular methodology without regard to the question; and over-reliance on one type of data to the exclusion of another. …