• Rssss
Advertising

Bookshelf: Rory Sutherland

Posted by Rob Alderson,

To celebrate this week’s launch of his book The Wiki Man, we spoke to Rory Sutherland to find out which five books have influenced and inspired him the most during his illustrious career. At least it was meant to be five, but as you will see Rory found the parameters of the piece, well, overly constrictive, so it’s a bumper Bookshelf…

Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin Stephen Jay Gould

It’s about evolution and baseball and statistics and it was recommended about ten years ago in Marketing as a book which had changed a client’s way of thinking. I went and dutifully bought a copy and I would like to thank whoever it was who recommended it, it’s tremendous. It helped me look at evolution and life on earth in a completely different dimension, with a new respect for insects and also for statistics and the interpretation of statistics.

I would put it up there with The Selfish Gene and Impossible Mountain by Richard Dawkins, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan and The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow.

I genuinely think a far greater part of maths teaching should be teaching statistics and probability. You can get through life perfectly well without having to work out the surface area of a cone, yet we use and abuse probability in practically every decision we make in our lives.

We should also teach Darwin in schools – it is one of the most important things you ca do to change people’s way of looking at the world, not least avoiding the bias people have of assuming everything has to have a purposeful narrative – sometimes shit just happens.
www.amazon.co.uk/fullhouse

The Armchair Economist Steven Landsburg

I picked this because I think people should be taught what is neat and elegant about free market economics. I’m not a literalist who thinks the system is perfect with no need for qualification. Along with the insight of Darwin and maybe Bayes we have to understand the insight of Adam Smith. At least sometimes self interested actions can lead to outcomes that are collectively beneficial. It’s also good for understanding the overlap between Darwin and Smith, sometimes they conflict but sometimes they cohere.
www.amazon.co.uk/armchaireconomist

Discover Your Inner Economist Tyler Cowen

It’s similar to Landsburg but a wonderful, wonderful primer if you’re sitting at home with flu like I was when I read it. It is very strange that most people in marketing go through their lives without being able to use an economic model to understand what is going on. The overlap between psychology, marketing and economics is fascinating and gave rise to behavioural economics. The problem with marketing is that it does not have a model, it has a process involving research and a little bit of validation. What I suddenly realised reading this book is that if you are an economist or a mathematician you have a model, you have first principles and if you get stuck you can go back to these principles.

He also has a great blog, Marginal Revolution and that was where I found about Nudge by Richard Thaler.

It seemed to be an academic validation of things that I and other marketeers had thought for a long time – relatively small things have big effects on human behaviour – choice architecture, framing, loss aversion etc. I got one of the first five copies in the UK and was able to write about it in The Spectator and that coincided with me taking the IPA presidency. This was a natural gift to marketeers it gave them something like a model about how people behave and how that differs from what you might naturally predict using logical models of self interest.
www.amazon.co.uk/innereconomist
www.amazon.co.uk/nudge

Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman

His writing about the science of happiness and his studies into bias and decision making seems to me to help put human psychology at the centre of problem solving. People do not solve problems by looking at people any more, the system has become managerialised and decision are made by people who sit staring at balance sheets. They develop an inhuman model and impose it on the people for whom it was intended.

The ISA makes perfect logical sense to an accountant but not enough people take it up because it surrounded by layers of bureacracy and confusion.

We can solve problems backwards, look at people and use that insight to determine which buildings or transport networks to build. One of things Kahneman or Taylor or Paul Dolan at the LSE is starting to win is this argument, saying let’s not try and solve this problem with litigation, or taxation or crass incentives why not try solving it using psychology?
www.amazon.co.uk/thinkingfastandslow

Being Digital Nicholas Negroponte

This is another interesting book that says that DNA is effectively digital – the human body is basically like the picture on your Sky TV. I happened to read a copy just at the point the digital revolution was taking off and it made me realise how significant it was.
www.amazon.co.uk/beingdigital

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle

One reason is I like detective fiction, and there’s an element of me that enjoys marketing problems because I see them as a kind of detective work but the other reason, is that even though Conan Doyle is not brilliantly regarded as a literary writer Kinglsey Amis ranked him immensely highly as a prose writer

It’s similar with David Ogilvy, Neil French, Dave Trott – people with ad backgrounds who we should be more proud of. They write about relatively complex things with spectacular clarity and as Kingsley Amis would say that is the first skill of a writer – you can add baubles like literary allusion and motifs but can you write clearly and unambiguously in a way that causes no pain to the person reading you?
www.amazon.co.uk/sherlockholmes

The Clicking of Cuthbert P.G. Wodehouse

PG Wodehouse is another one – the most perfect work of artistic creation in the history of the world, far, far superior to the Sistine Chapel or Chartres Cathedral, is his golfing short story called The Clicking of Cuthbert.

I must have read The Clicking of Cuthbert more than 30 times and actually that is something interesting about all these books – they are all re-readable.

It’s a bit middle brow, I’ll give you that but it truly gives me pleasure every time I read it. If the original typescript came up for sale I would really delve into my bank account for that.
www.amazon.co.uk/clickingofcuthbert

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Advertising View Archive

  1. Main

    Spectacular promo film here from Reebok, inviting you to “give me your classics and I’ll show you the future.” As well as taking you swerving around northern A-roads in a BMW E28 M5 (dream car) stopping briefly on the way to pick up a blonde girl in the leafy suburbs (dream babe) this short film perfectly promotes the nostalgia associated with the Reebok Classics.

  2. List

    Like police officers getting younger, feeling estranged from Radio 1 is a sure sign that you’re getting on a bit. But even I – from the rarefied perch of my early 30s – can appreciate the brilliance of this promo for the station’s Even More Music Month. They had the good sense to commission animation duo Nicos Livesey and Tom Bunker, who created 30 seconds of trippy music-themed madness complete with gurning lollipops, bopping pineapples and an infernal rock-band playing on a spooling tongue. It’s fun, it looks great and it gets its message across in a half-minute energy burst, even if disappearing into Fearne Cotton’s mouth is slightly terrifying.

  3. Main

    It’s time to play Spot the Creative here in this fantastic video from Rotterdam design studio From Form. I was going to say that it was an animation, but that’s the beauty of this film – it’s totally not. By using clever, olde worlde-style fairground aesthetics they’ve conjured up a mechanical set with which to promote the annual Reasons to Create conference.

  4. Glazer-list

    Fresh off the press trail from Under The Skin, Jonathan Glazer has just finished work on an intensely physical advert for Canon. The spot, called Gladiator Football, focuses on the annual Florentine game of Calcio Storico, a brutal combination of cage fighting and football that sees two teams pitted against each other in a sandy ring, beating the crap out of each other in order to win a cow.

  5. List

    If I’m being completely honest for the first ten seconds of this new Guardian ad, I thought it was going to be frustratingly saccharine. But what starts out seeming like just another cutesy, family-orientated spot packed full of adorable little children making a mess of their middle-class parents’ homes, quickly develops into a beautifully structured bit of film, suggesting that we’re all influenced by The Guardian’s weekend offerings, as person after person engages uniquely with their cultural and culinary content; attending the same shows, cooking the same Nigel Slater recipe and even having a crack at making the same bird house. Which sums up the weekend I’m about to have perfectly. Fetch me my tools!

  6. List

    Film4 has been one of the UK’s foremost production companies since its inception in 1982, responsible for titles like Trainspotting, Paris, Texas, Hunger and This Is England among many others. They’re also the UK’s number one film channel, screening films for free since 2010. But we’ve always just liked them for their weird TV spots. When they launched their free service four years ago they had Lucy Liu, Ewan McGregor, Gael Garcia Bernal and Judi Dench dressed up in all manner of strange outfits making fools of themselves. Now they’ve grown up a bit and have a new look to show off, but the ads are no less enjoyable.

  7. List

    It’s been nearly a year now since Breaking Bad ended although its die-hard fans remain evangelical in explaining to literally anybody how they really should have seen it by now. Maybe this will distract them for a while, as Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have reunited for this super six-minute promo to mark Audi’s sponsorship of Monday’s Emmy Awards. We find the duo running a slightly creepy pawn shop where they encounter Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is trying to pawn her Emmy statuette after drunkenly buying an island because she was jealous of Celine Dion. There are lots of nicely sly nods to the pair’s previous incarnation, the merits of supporting actors and comedy vs drama, and there are (so I am told) a few neat Breaking Bad in-jokes too. The high-production values help of course but it’s the script that sets this apart.

  8. Scclist

    If Quentin Tarantino made ads, they’d look like this. The scene is a dark, chintzy bar. Our protagonist wears a studded denim jacket and glitzy gold earrings. There’s a song in the background about Little Red Riding Hood, and I think we all know who’s the Big Bad Wolf.

  9. List

    There has been a lot of discussion about brand stories recently, but it’s important to differentiate between vaguely extrapolated marketing gimmicks and genuine humdingers of revolution and exile, fire and earthquakes. BACARDÍ boasts a heritage that includes an astonishing array of interesting tales, and they’ve drawn on this rich reserve to create their very own graphic novel.

  10. List

    There was a time when it was all about fitting in, running with the in-crowd and following the masses. But over recent years we’ve all come to realise that it’s much more interesting to dare to be different and that weird and unusual can be so much more exciting.

  11. Main

    The word “sumptuous” shouldn’t be thrown around willy nilly, but in the context of a new Johnnie Walker whisky ad featuring Jude Law lounging on what could be the world’s most expensive antique boat, lolling about on the sapphire Mediterranean, it’s totally acceptable. You may well have seen the Johnnie Walker ad in collaboration with Mr Porter going around the web last week, a 6-minute visual feast that is infused with style and money and a Talented Mr Ripley-vibe. Tom Cockram, a photographer we hold very dear to our hearts, has put all the behind-the-scenes shots from this ad that was directed by Jake Scott up on his site, and I’m tempted to say that I’m enjoying these even more than the ad itself.

  12. Ifvlist

    Do I love this ad campaign more because it’s French? Probably. It’d be super cool from anywhere though. Intermarché – a big supermarket chain in France – decided it was time to save an endangered species from the rubbish bin; ugly duckling fruit and veg. In the UK a whopping 40% of greens don’t reach our shelves simply for being a bit unfortunate looking and globally we waste $750 billion worth of food each year. Ouch.

  13. List

    If you watched any of this year’s World Cup you’ll most likely have noticed all the players strutting about in pairs of weightless neon boots. If, like me, you don’t really pay attention to that kind of thing, then you may not have known what they were. Luckily this stunning spot from ManvsMachine grabbed my attention for long enough to inform me that they were Nike’s latest Mercurial Superfly boot, capable of eviscerating a giant marble army of footballing warriors with their superhuman speed. But more important than my education in high-performance footwear was my appreciation of the phenomenal skill of Mike Alderson and his team at ManvsMachine whose ability to turn pure fiction into a believable, 3D-rendered reality is nothing short of breathtaking.