Truth, Lies and Advertising Book Summary - Truth, Lies and Advertising Book explained in key points
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Truth, Lies and Advertising summary

Jon Steel

The Art of Account Planning

4.4 (17 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

Truth, Lies and Advertising by Jon Steel is an insightful book about the advertising industry. Steel shares his experience working in advertising and provides valuable lessons on how to create effective campaigns. A must-read for anyone in the industry.

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    Truth, Lies and Advertising
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    Account planners bring together the client’s business interests, the agency’s creative team and consumer needs.

    Ad people have a bad reputation for being untrustworthy and unethical, almost on par with snake oil salesmen. But not all ad agencies are trying to hoodwink you or overwhelm you with ads; some strive to connect with their audiences on a human level. And for this kind of next-level advertising, an account planner is crucial.

    This role is all about researching consumer needs in order to solve client problems. An account planner conducts consumer interviews, develops information briefs or looks into various related factors (like sales figures) that might be contributing to the client’s problems.

    Additionally, the account planner is responsible for keeping the creative team on track by sharing information about the target consumer and communicating the client’s needs. In other words, this job isn’t about making the decisions, but rather about making ideas happen.

    For instance, when the author was working on a project for the auto company, Isuzu, he hosted focus groups at dealerships to understand the customer base for individual models. When he learned that the Rodeo model attracted adventurous types, he relayed that information to the creative team. Building on that insight, the creatives developed a commercial about a young father and his son visiting a toy store, where they find a Rodeo packaged like a toy car. And the campaign tagline read: “The Rodeo. Grow up. Not old.”

    As you can see, the account planner’s job requires in-depth research. And that’s why a planner should ideally work with three clients at a time, max. That might not seem like much, but it’s important that the account planner doesn’t cut corners due to overwhelming workloads or time pressure.

    After all, getting the job done right will help the agency create lasting relationships with clients and build an impressive portfolio, which makes it a more profitable strategy in the long-term.

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    What is Truth, Lies and Advertising about?

    In Truth, Lies and Advertising (1998), leading account planner Jon Steel shares an insider’s insight into the world of advertising. For Steel, the creation of great ads is all about understanding the consumer, and his compelling behind-the-scenes anecdotes illustrate the role account planners play in developing a successful campaign.

    Truth, Lies and Advertising Review

    Truth, Lies and Advertising (1998) by Jon Steel is a thought-provoking exploration of the advertising industry and the complexities behind creating successful campaigns. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With insider perspectives and firsthand experiences, Steel sheds light on the reality of the advertising world, offering a unique and authentic glimpse into this fascinating industry.
    • The book provides insightful analyses of advertising strategies and techniques, helping readers understand the psychology behind successful campaigns and the power of effective storytelling.
    • Through compelling anecdotes and real-life examples, Steel challenges conventional thinking about advertising, encouraging readers to think critically and creatively about their own approaches to marketing and communication.

    Best quote from Truth, Lies and Advertising

    Ultimately I believe that any good planner has to be very strong both strategically and creatively.

    —Jon Steel
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    Who should read Truth, Lies and Advertising?

    • Anyone who’s starting out in advertising or planning
    • Mad Men fans who want to understand how a real advertising agency works
    • Business owners want to hire an advertising agency to develop a campaign

    About the Author

    Jon Steel is currently planning director at WPP Group and chief strategy officer at George Patterson Y&R. He’s spent decades at the top of the advertising industry on three continents – America, Australia and Europe – working with iconic brands like Sony, Budweiser, Hewlett-Packard, Nike and Porsche.


    © [Jon Steel: Truth, Lies & Advertising] copyright [1998], John Wiley & Sons [Inc. or Ltd. as applicable] Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons [Inc. or Ltd. as applicable] and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

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    Truth, Lies and Advertising FAQs 

    What is the main message of Truth, Lies and Advertising?

    The main message of Truth, Lies and Advertising is the importance of honesty in the advertising industry.

    How long does it take to read Truth, Lies and Advertising?

    The reading time for Truth, Lies and Advertising varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Truth, Lies and Advertising a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Truth, Lies and Advertising is a valuable read. It provides insights into the advertising world and encourages ethical practices.

    Who is the author of Truth, Lies and Advertising?

    Jon Steel is the author of Truth, Lies and Advertising.

    What to read after Truth, Lies and Advertising?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Truth, Lies and Advertising, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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