“Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!)” – Book Review

Posted by Calle Bjørnqvist in Advertising, Inspiration, Marketing, Writing – April 14, 2017

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George Lois is a living legend in advertising. He is first and foremost an art director, but also a firm believer in “the big idea” – an idea so great that it penetrates the mind of the reader. In 2012 he wrote a book, with the same title as this article, with advice that he has gathered from both his professional and personal life. After reading the book we felt that we had to share some of it’s content with you. Here’s some of the advice from George Lois’ book, and why we think it’s worth picking up.

Begin with the word
Although Lois was a master of the visual arts, he had great respect for the word. In fact, his most frequently offered advice to young art directors is “start with the word”. In Lois’ opinion, the words in an ad have to exude visual potential, which then will inspire the image that becomes your ad. In Lois’ own words: “the word comes first, then the visual”.

The computer is not a great place to start
Lois makes it abundantly clear in his book that no matter how hard you look, you will never find a great idea on a blank computer screen. In his opinion, the computer is a great tool once you know exactly what you’re looking for. However, before you have that one great idea, you should stay away from the computer and the internet.

Lois and Ogilvy
George Lois didn’t agree with our own David Ogilvy on all points, but they had tremendous respect for each other. Despite some different opinions, there was one thing the two of them could agree on: the customer is not stupid. Ogilvy was quoted as saying “ the customer is not a moron. She’s your wife”. Along the same lines, Lois said: “If you think people are dumb, you’ll spend the rest of your life doing dumb work”.

There’s a fine line between being precise and being condescending, and if it’s one thing that people despise, it’s being talked down to – especially by an ad. Make content that makes you, the customer and the brand look smart.

Why should you read this book?
Damn Good Advice is filled with remarkable stories and, unsurprisingly, some really excellent advice. Some stories will make you laugh, some will definitely impress you, and all of the stories combined will convince you to never underestimate the power of an idea. We think the book is suitable for students as well as ad-veterans, because it offers valuable insight into one of the greatest minds in advertising.


Full title: Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!)

Author: George Lois

Published: 2012 by Phaidon Press Limited

ISBN nr: 978 0 7148 6348 1