2015 – The Year in (The Agency) Review

 

AgencyYearInReview_0003_v4Welcome to our fourth edition of The Year in (the Agency) Review!

Before we get to the contributions of our esteemed and varied guests, a few words.

First, as always, thank you for reading, commenting, spreading the word, and generally making The Agency Review a success. We hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are. More even.

Sixteen new posts this year – ranging from novels to memoirs to advertising classics and beyond. Not as many as in 2012 or 2013, but more than in 2014, so hopefully that’s a good sign. And something of a milestone for us – we posted our 100th review, of Rosser Reeves classic Reality in Advertising. Took us a little longer than we anticipated, but hey, patience is a virtue, right?

Which of those sixteen posts got the most traction last year? The 2014 edition of The Year in (The Agency) Review! Which post got the most views last year of any of our posts? Our September 2012 review of Hey Whipple Squeeze This. Apparently some things are timeless…

Only six interviews this year, but they were all good ones, weren’t they? Tremendous thanks to everyone who took the time out of their busy days to discuss – and in some cases explain and argue about – the finer points of their books, including Scott Goodson (our most viewed interview this year), Idris Mootee, Michael Moss, Steven Heller, Ty Montague and Ken Segall. If you’re not a subscriber, all of these are now available to you. If you are a subscriber, you saw them first – and thanks for subscribing.

Also only six editions of our new feature “Backstory” this year, so much gratitude to Fred Ehle, Whitney Falk, Kurt Hunzeker, David Blackburn, Ryan Emmons (our top viewed Backstory) and Paul Jarrett for taking time to participate. These too are now available to everyone.

And something else that will be available to everyone in 2016; Advertising Age has graciously allowed us to reprint some of the reviews we ran there that pre-dated this site. So look for those in the coming months.

Okay, now, onto the 2015 The Year in (the Agency) Review – in which we ask, as we have in the past, a variety of people we respect, the following three questions:

What were you really glad you read in 2015?

What do you hope to read in 2016?

And lastly, what do you hope someone will write because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Now, some of you may have noticed a slight modification to our regular questions –the elision of the word “book”. That’s because it occurred to us this year that people don’t read only books (shocking!). They also read magazines, websites, chapbooks, e-singles and even, dare we say it, blogs. So, in an effort to adapt to the times, we have opened up the content for our contributors. Some have taken advantage of it. Some not. Reminding us, as ever, of our favorite William Gibson quotation – The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

Thanks again to everyone for their support – from readers and subscribers who keep checking us out and spreading the word, to authors who spend their precious time talking with us about their works, to publicists and publishers who keep us in mind when they see something exciting, to marketers of every stripe who continue to contribute content when we ask them to. We are regularly amazed at your support, advice and encouragement. Best wishes to you all for a tremendous 2016.

Okay, on to this year’s Year in (the Agency) Review!

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Daniel Cherry III got his start in advertising at Crispin Porter + Bogusky where he successfully brought AND 1 Basketball to the forefront of the athletic apparel industry and played a critical role in the development of the anti-tobacco “truth.com” brand. He was also co-owner of Frank151 Magazine and malbon Brothers Farms (mBF), the advertising and brand consulting division of Frank151 Media Group, where he led branded content, influencer, and experiential marketing strategies for iconic lifestyle brands including Red Bull, Toyota Scion, Nike, glaceáu Vitaminwater, PF Flyers, and Ride Snowboards.

He then returned to advertising at Wieden+Kennedy where he led strategy on Nike, the Jordan Brand, and ESPN, and then was named Managing Partner & Director of Brand Strategy at Anomaly, where he worked on global brands such as Converse, Umbro, Cole Haan, Budweiser, and Motorola. Daniel left Anomaly to serve as Chief Marketing Officer at the re-launch of the legendary soccer club The New York Cosmos, and then served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Vice President of Consumer Planning & Research at DIAGEO N.A.

Daniel is currently the Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer for the 3-time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center entertainment complex, a proud father, husband, and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
By far, my favorite book of 2015 was Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. This book was an unabashed and gut-wrenching reality check, reminding me once again that it’s critically important to have a  singular vision, humble leadership, and a hyper-creative design led culture if one wants to build a strong, sustainable brand and business in today’s marketplace.

The addictive allure of rapid success that was built in such a conservative, dysfunctional, and insular environment like RIM was simply astonishing to read.

From the outside looking in, it was clear for far too long how close to the cliff Blackberry indeed was, but success created a false sense of confidence in their management, and the house of cards came tumbling down so terribly fast. Lesson learned…again.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have a slight obsession with comic books…specifically their art direction and copywriting, which is vastly under-rated. (Yes, I’m dead serious.)

2016 will bring the launch of Marvel’s Black Panther, which will be penned by none other than the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient and The Atlantic journalist boy wonder Ta-Nehisi Coates. Given the country’s racial climate, I am hoping Ta-Nehisi will use this opportunity to tackle head on the issues du jour of race, class, gender, and oppression. How ballsy will Marvel allow him to be? Hopefully, much more than Disney allowed J.J. Abrams. Yep, I went there!

Personally, I have never read a comic book by a best-selling author. I may not be over-stating it by saying that Black Panther’s may be the most widely anticipated pop culture comic of the last 25 years. It’s like the Yeezy of comics. (Shout out to Sneakerheads everywhere!)

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
As an ex-Wieden + Kennedy alum, I want more than anything to read Dan Wieden‘s unadulterated tome on how to build a successful brand…culture first. I want the world to hear his philosophy on the importance of Failing Fast and Hard. Of course, I’ll prefer the audio book narrated by none other than the Obi-Wan Kenobi of advertising himself. Could the foreword please be written by Mark Parker? (Word to John Jay!)

Susan CredleThe creative brilliance responsible for making the iconic M&Ms ‘human’ and for the legendary Allstate’s ‘Mayhem’ campaign, once dreamed of a life outside of a suburban neighbourhood in the Carolinas after watching Ridley’s Scott’s ‘Share the Fantasy’ spot for Chanel

Parallels are often drawn between the fictional Peggy Olson from Mad Men and Susan Credle, who started out as an intern at BBDO and moved up the ranks to become EVP, Executive Creative Director. In 2009, she moved to Leo Burnett USA where she was credited with the shop’s creative resurgence.
As Global Chief Creative Officer at FCB, Susan helps Carter Murray’s ambition to burnish the agency’s creativity product and reputation. 

Susan is one of the industry’s leading creatives and an important voice representing women. She has received numerous industry accolades, including CAF’s Chicago Ad Woman of the Year in 2013, Advertising Age’s 100 Most Influential Women, Business Insider’s Most Creative Women in Advertising and induction into the AAF’s Hall of Achievement.

 

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
In 2015, I read The Book of Gossage by Howard Luck Gossage, again. Because right when I think this advertising business is becoming quite chaotic, it is nice to be reminded it always has been. The principles of art and commerce remain constant even as technology evolves. Gossage was the master of social ideas long before the Internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year
In 2016, I hope to read The Carolina Way by Dean Smith, again. Because Dean Smith coached lives through basketball. Even though he was terribly competitive, he knew having an impact on young men’s lives was more important than winning. David BrooksTED talk asks, Should You Live for Your Eulogy…or Your Resume? I believe Dean Smith proved you can do both.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
A Legacy: Why and how you should strive to leave at least one. Because I believe we have become too infatuated with how much money we make rather than what we make. The philosophy of planting a tree knowing we will never sit underneath its shade is one I wish more of us would embrace. What ideas will we invest in that will still be around after we have left this business? Whose voices will inspire talented people to make a difference through the very public business of art and commerce. How will advertising support affordable or free premium content for all? The potential for legacy thinking in this business is vast. And for me that is what makes it so exciting.

Nicholas de WolffA passionate advocate for long-term business growth driven by innovation, marketing, and IP development, Nicholas de Wolff has served as an advisor and mentor to individuals, corporations, non-profits, and governments around the world. A digital marketing and sustainable business development pioneer, Nicholas has developed online properties for clients including Disney, the Jim Henson Company, Lexus, FX Networks, LucasArts, and Sony, to name a few. Former Chief Marketing Officer at Technicolor, Nicholas has been a keynote speaker and panelist at numerous conferences. Co-founder and inaugural Governor of the Producers Guild of America’s New Media Council, Nicholas was inducted in to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 2002, where he served on the Jury for the Emmy Awards for several years. For more on Nicholas, please visit his long form bio at http://about.me/dewolff

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
The Quoran – Marketing is about connection above all else, and I got tired of not having a better sense of the culture of Islam, given that everyone was talking about it with such conviction, but so few people seemed to have any real knowledge. All too often, executive leaders feel pressured to position themselves as experts in areas about which they are woefully ignorant, given the exponential acceleration of IP and technological development. We remain viable and valuable only so long as we remain curious and engaged.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year
Less clickbait, and more thoughtful journalism: informative, intelligent, and as objective as possible. Our News Media is getting more and more sucked in to the quagmire of clickbait journalism, believing that “impressions” is a more compelling and valuable metric than “engagement”. They could not be more wrong, and many news organizations have been discovering this, to their detriment. The two corny adages: “Content is King” and “Quality is better than quantity” apply today, more than ever. 2016 will – I sincerely hope – see social engagement focus increasingly on value-driven content sharing and commentary, and less on manipulation of meaningless volume metrics such as follower counts, and fan likes.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
More poetry. I recently discovered a very compelling though little-known poet by the name of H.C. Morgan, a British recluse who writes immensely powerfully. He reinvigorated in me a long-dormant passion for the impact of the well-chosen turn of phrase.

Rob Fieldsis the Marketing Director for CMO Initiatives at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and is a contributor to Forbes and PSFK. Follow him on Twitter here [http://twitter.com/robfields]

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
Jeffrey L. Bowman’s Reframe The Marketplace: The Total Market Approach To Reaching The New Majority which takes a fresh, McKinsey-like approach to dealing with the seismic demographic shifts that are bearing down on most brands.

No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All The Trends by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika and Jonathan Woetzel.  Speaking of McKinsey, the authors are all directors at the McKinsey Global Institute and take 25 years of data to help readers “reset our intuition” in order to thrive in an age of discontinuous change.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year
Sadly, I still need to get to Faris Yakob’s Paid Attention and Adam Morgan & Mark Barden‘s A Beautiful Constraint.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
If someone would write a book about how to elevate contemporary culture to a strategic level, I’d definitely buy that.  However, as interesting as culture is to me, I know that it doesn’t directly solve business problems.  But I can wish.

Sally Hogsheadis the international, best-selling author of Fascinate and more recently of How the World Sees You. A Hall of Fame Speaker, Sally graduated from Duke University, and, in her second year of advertising, won more awards than any other advertising writer in the U.S. earning her the title “the most successful junior copywriter of all time.” By age 27 she’d opened her first ad agency (Robaire and Hogshead), and has worked at such important shops as Wieden + Kennedy, Fallon McElligott,the Martin Agency and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, where she was a managing director. She has been described as an “advertising mastermind” who “changed the face of North American advertising.”

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.
Instead of exclusively reading business books, this year I read more fiction. As a non-fiction author, it helps me get out of my work brain space, and into a story.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
I’ve been slow to adopt audiobooks, and instead tend to buy printed books (the kind made with actual molecules!). Next year I want to get in the habit of consuming more audiobooks, so I can explore different types of content. My friend Rajesh Setty launched a new app named Audvisor, with 3-minute audio clips from experts. Sort of an audio snack. Perfect for my short attention span.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
I’m releasing the revised version of my book Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist. I hope you’ll buy it in a heartbeat.  : )

Phil Koestereris a planner who currently leads strategy for the B2B group at Ogilvy Chicago. In his spare time, he tends to his growing anti-library

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.
Venkat Rao‘s Breaking Smart newsletter
. Rao is the consultant and writer behind ribbonfarm.com; the newsletter is “a weekly dose of technological serendipity-seeking” based on the observation that “software is eating the world.” Every post is a little bomb of insight—for example, see this one about how to manage the flow of ideas in the creative process.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
Matthew Crawford‘s The World Beyond Your Head.
As marketers, we’re aware that we communicate in a world that makes exponentially-increasing demands on the attention of the people we want to communicate with. We should take an occasional break from creating ever-more stuff that adds to those demands and spend some time thinking about what it’s like to live in that world, and what kind of world we want it to be.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
This year, I’d like to read about a successful collaboration between an advertiser and an agency using the new working model proposed by Michael Farmer in Madison Avenue Manslaughter. The best hope for our industry lies in agencies must find better ways of measuring the value that we create for our clients. There are signs that marketers are starting to push for this—see PepsiCo eliminating its marketing procurement department.

Yutaro Kojimais a Global Creative Strategist at Facebook’s Creative Shop, where he designs ideas that nudge age-old mega brands into the consumer reality of today. But what really gets him out of bed is helping unlock the potential for mega brands of tomorrow in SMBs, gaming, and emerging markets through the boundless possibilities of technology.  Prior to Facebook, Yutaro worked 18 years in the advertising industry as a rather ‘traditional’ Creative Director for Y&R New York, Dentsu Y&R Tokyo, and Saatchi & Saatchi London — collecting a few awards and honours here and there along the way. To keep a finger on the pulse of managerial reality, Yutaro sits on the board of Syndicate Room, an equity crowd-funding platform that he’d co-founded while completing his graduate degree at the University of Cambridge.

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.
A proper nerd, I have my pulse on Japanese subculture. Attack on Titan, a Japanese comic book by Hajime Isayame, takes place in a futuristic medieval city surrounded by massive walls meant to keep out giants that feed on people. The plot and the graphics are, to say the least, absurd and disturbing. But, like any author with stature, Isayama creates a world with rules and physics that are vivid and visceral. This verisimilitude allows profound exploration of the key characters’ psychology. In a world where Virtual Reality devices will expand our experiences and perception about the world, I take note of the methods employed by the author to construct fictional worlds that becomes a platform of human drama.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
Autobiography of a Yogi. Famed for being the last parting gift from Steve Jobs to the people he cared about, this book is supposed to be a transformational rite of passage for those that seek spirituality and self-realization. Not a spiritual person, I am intrigued to see where I’d emerge after being thrown into the deep end.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
It seems to be that we already have every book that can be written. But my current interest is in the fundamental mechanisms of what makes people feel engaged and why. I’d love to understand what quality means and whether there are universal components to its make up.

Tim McDougall is the founder of BuiltByLocal Ventures, a venture firm that helps media companies invest non-cash assets (their media) in early stage, advertising-dependent startups. A reformed marketer and one-time newspaper publisher, he has worked in innovation and marketing roles for Miller Brewing Company, P.F. Chang’s, the Houston Rockets, and The Gazette Company.

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.
I’m lumping together Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azerrad’s history of the indie/underground music scene in the ‘80s, and Live From New York, the oral history of Saturday Night Live. Both are about creating something amazing and new out of nothing, and doing it with a lot of vision and very little resources. Dealing with non-believers, overcoming massive adversity, making a religion of self-reliance and DIY – it’s all there. I started my own business in 2015, and I always read a ton of business and marketing books, but these two put the most gas in my motor.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
I’m going with How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt. Because it’s about how the music industry imploded in the early 2000s when digital formats became popular, and because I have an unhealthy fascination with how big institutions blow up. Especially when the blow up is preventable, and especially when it creates huge opportunities for the more agile innovators that follow. Losing the Signal, about the collapse of Blackberry, and Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, are also high on my list. You’re likely sensing a theme here.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
Every week, I talk with marketers who learned their craft in the ‘80s or ‘90s, got comfortable for years with some big company … and who are now completely bewildered at what marketing has become. The practice of marketing has become completely disrupted, even if the underlying principles remain the same. So please, somebody write a great, accessible summary of how the practice of marketing works today to which I can refer these talented, but lost, souls. Include concepts like growth hacking, marketing automation, trackability, permission marketing, “useful” marketing, the increased value of data, personas vs. segments, and all of the other big shifts. Everything I’ve found is either too full of broad platitudes to be of any practical help, or so deep down a tedious, technical rabbit hole that it’s not useful to anybody who doesn’t already have a lot of context. Write this book. I’ll buy a hundred copies and hand them out like candy to marketing’s “lost generation.”

Mitch Meyersis a former Brand Manager on Bud Light and Director of Marketing at Anheuser-Busch who was famously responsible for the introduction of “Spuds McKenzie” – and the triumph of Bud Light in the Light beer category. She was also Co-Founder/President/CEO of the fabled Midwestern marketing agency Zipatoni, and currently is Co-Owner and Partner at Nature’s Care and BeLeaf, both of which are involved in the cultivation and production of medical marijuana. She divides her time between Illinois and Colorado.

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.
My favorite read in 2015 and best leadership book I have ever read is Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal. This story is riveting and mind-boggling how General McChrystal could restructure the largest military organization in the world in the midst of a grueling war. Discarding a century of wisdom and organization, he realized to compete with the enemy’s speed and flexibility, he needed to break his troops into small teams of teams and be led by the people closest to the battle.

With the business world changing at warp speed, this provides support for an information-rich, decentralized approach to management.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
Next year I hope to read something that completely explains digital currency and why I should be participating.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
I hope someone writes a book about a new strategy for our Government.  I believe our system is not working, and we surely have smart enough people in this country to come up with a better solution.  This political system is beyond annoying.

Chris Milleris a brand planner living in New York, by way of Philadelphia. He enjoys cooking, wine cycling, Frank Zappa, Philadelphia sports, and upsetting overly politically correct people. He is happily married to his wife Michelle, who account directs their life.

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.

There were two books that I’m really glad I read:

1) Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking by Mark Will-Weber
This book popped up on various gift lists last year and I was immediately attracted to it. Interesting antidotes about all 44 of our Presidents, and their relationship with booze, instantly had this history buff’s attention. More than that, it provides perspective of what the popular drinks of the times were. As a lover of drinks, a history buff, and someone whose career requires a keen knowledge of cultural trends, the opportunity to learn about the debauchery of an unspectacular soul like James Buchanan was not to be turned down. This book did not disappoint. Not only does this tome tell great stories, but it also contains recipes to make many of the concoctions of yore, which you can use to impress your friends, or have a Dolly Madison-style a rager of your own.

2) Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man by Steve Harrison
I was lucky enough to be invited to a screening of the documentary that complements this book. I didn’t know much about the book’s subject, Howard Gossage, before that evening, but was intrigued after the movie so I had to read more. Gossage did things differently and was ahead of his time doing things like using interactive marketing in the 1950’s, or doing work for social causes, which most people didn’t do back then. This book has definitely shaped how I look at my work as a Brand Planner.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
The Bible
.
I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and I have a deep curiosity about life and culture.  It was on an Amtrak ride from Philly to NYC, I think around Metuchen when it struck me that I should take a stab at reading the Bible.  At a minimum, the Bible is just a book like all the rest so I figure I will see what all of the hubbub is about. Perhaps I’ll have a better grasp of this crazy world (most likely not)… or at the very least a wider net of references to use in creative briefs and/or pitch presentations.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
A Line In The Sand: Walter Sobchak’s perspective on Dudeism
I love The Big Lebowski. It has spawned its own form of spiritualism (Dudeism), which I subscribe to. Though many other Dudeists disagree, I believe the character of Walter Sobchak to be a “dude”, the Yang to the Jeff Lebowski‘s (the actual “dude”) Ying. While the Tao of the Dude has been written about ad nauseam, other characters have not been explored as it relates to this utterly lazy belief system. I feel this subject of Walter requires deeper exploration by Dudeist theologians. However, I am entirely too busy and lazy to take on such a big project and, perhaps of greater significance, I am not a well-versed theologian. I am far more suited toward mixing a Caucasian, listening to Creedence, and outing Nihilists as cowards.

Drew NeisserAs founder and CEO of Renegade, Drew is a recognized authority on non-traditional marketing techniques, having won enumerable awards for creativity and campaign effectiveness.  He is the author of a new book, The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing that features insights from 64 marketing luminaries. Ranked among “50 Thought Leaders over 50” in 2015 and 2014 by Brand Quarterly, Drew is a prolific blogger for a long list of online publications including Forbes, FastCompany, SocialMediaToday, CMO.com, TheCMOClub.com and more.  [82]

1) what were really glad you read THIS year.
I read two eye-openers, both of which were written many years ago. The first was Robert Caro’s The Power Broker which provided a startling history of New York City’s infrastructure and politics in the 20th century, a must read book for any concerned resident of the Big Apple. The second was Michael Porter’s Competitive Advantage, which helped me rethink what I thought I knew about strategy and understand why CEOs and CMOs really don’t speak the same language.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
I’d love to read Robert Caro’s final installment of his incredible biographical series on LBJ.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be done for several more years so I’ll fall back into my research on the life and times of Ben Franklin — next up will be Joseph Ellis’s The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American RevolutionI expect to validate my obsession with Franklin when I write my third book.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
A book guaranteed to put me to sleep in 60 seconds would be nice. Seriously, I’m a sucker for historical fiction and would welcome a series on recent Middle East history that is as enlightening and entertaining as William Dietrich’s Ethan Gage adventures (those track the rise and fall of Napoleon).  On the business front, I’m ready for a post-social, post-content marketing book that speaks to breaking down the silos and aggregated measurement techniques.

David Nobayis known widely as “Nobby”. He’s been in the industry for 30 years, which depresses him greatly. That said, he’s managed to retain a sense of youthful anarchy that, whilst costing him the odd client, has maintained his sanity. In that time he’s led Saatchis in Australia; culminating in it being named Agency of the decade down under and launched Droga5’s first outpost outside New York. He’s also hosted a prime time TV show, written a successful stage play, painted a debut gallery show and, this year, had 8 of his personal poems turned into short films for ABC’s art channel in Australia. He no longer drinks alcohol, but smokes Cuban cigars more than can be recommended. In 2016, he was invited to launch the Paris hot shop Marcel down under for Publicis.

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
About fifteen years ago, while living and working in New York, I found myself imbibing copious amounts of vodka at my local East Village watering hole Pravda, with my long-time wing man, the photographer, Simon Harsent. Nothing, in itself, strange about that. In those heady days, I was young, single and what you may charmingly refer to as “a boozer”. (By contrast, I’m now old, married and sober.) No, what marked this particular night out was me spotting no other than Salman Rushdie through the fog of cigarette smoke. All the more amazing, given he was six months into a global Fatwa and presumably, marked for death. None of which he betrayed at he lounged in a corner booth, chatting, as I recall, to an impressively leggy blonde. Not exactly incognito. So impressed was I with his blatant chutzpah that I instructed the manager to buy him whatever he was drinking on me. Simon was convinced I was mistaken, but at the end of the night, Mr Rushdie passed our table and graciously thanked me for the gesture. Years later, now in Sydney, I was lucky enough to hear the brilliant Christopher Hitchens speak live. He was very frail and only a year from his death, yet as witty and scurrilous as anyone could hope for. Many of his anecdotes involved Salman and their days boozing it up in London with Martin Amis and our very own Clive James. You’d think these two events would be enough to warrant me reaching for a copy of The Satanic Verses, but it was only this year that I succumbed. It’s a book of aesthetic flourishes; dream sequences and lurid metaphor, placed in a modern age, but rich in the ancient echoes of its religion. Ultimately it’s about migration and a yearning for identity on foreign soil. Darkly apt in this year when the plight of boat people and the fragility of our borders hogged the global headlines. Ironically, it honors the plight, if in a cursory fashion, of the very people who were so offended by its inferences. Je suis Charlie, before its time.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
Stoner a Novel by John Williams
About a decade ago, while judging Andys Awards in Buenos Aries, Mark Waites, the creative co-founder of Mother, and I got into a chat about books. Turns out, we share a passion from the brilliant John Mortimer and his timeless masterpiece, Rumpole of the Bailey. Somewhere during that wonderful week of Malbec and chimmichurri, we invented a little, two man book club. Over the coming years, Mark would send me choice tomes, and I would reciprocate. In a world of kindles and Amazon, it was (and remains) reassuringly quaint. There’s something unique about unwrapping a new book. Stoner… is the latest offering from Mr Waites. It arrived early in the year and I’m ashamed to say I have neither read it, nor reciprocated. I blame a turbulent year at Droga5 here in Sydney, but in all honesty it’s no excuse. Sorry, dear Mark. This one is now on top of the bedside pile. And the new year will see one heading your way, promise!

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
By the time this is published, I’m praying to all the gods that the Orange-skinned, doughy-faced, candy-floss, comb-over demon monster known as The Trump will have imploded in a flash of toxic bile and crashed into one of his awful gold casinos. He has to, right? Surely a cartoon fascist so crudely drawn can’t make it all the way into the White House? Right? Even as I write this, my palms moisten with the possibility that the 99% of America that won’t be reading this blog have succumbed to the fear lords of Fox News and elevated this blustering bigot? No, I will not have it…which brings me to the book I would kill to read…the unfiltered biography of the spin doctor who followed the Trump missile’s trajectory through 2015. I’m assuming he or she will be secretly bitter by then, having been ignored a thousand times on private jets zipping between the belt states in a frantic bid to keep the carnival alive. I’m hoping it’s inevitable; that the same prick Machiavellian enough to see opportunity at his side, would also see the fiscal upside of turning on the real-estate baboon and spilling the bills for a quick buck. I’d read it, that’s for sure. Road-kill can be tasty.

Chris Parker is a writer at R/GA in New York City. He also posts under the handle @bassoonjokes on Twitter and is the co-host of the radio show and podcast You’re Not Weird. He has been featured on Digiday and on Splitsider. Favorite topics of discussion should you encounter him digitally or in real life include Talking Heads, Joy Division, and Bill Evans. But please don’t ask him what Led Zeppelin‘s best song is.

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Finding a new solution to an age old problem. A problem written off as impossible by professionals, analysts, historians, and fans. Doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, advertising, building a fan boat, whatever you’re up to… discovering the solution requires an astute understanding of the problem, not just its symptoms.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
Up, Up, & Away: The Kid, The Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos by Jonah Keri
Big fan of the Montreal Expos and this one came highly recommended. The author actually sent me a copy after a quick discussion about the team when our podcast did a gag episode about following the entire 1994 season of the Montreal Expos. The show was fake. The love of the team is real.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
A good book about Dire Straits. Underrated band, understated style. I just want to know more about how it came together, what drove the style, and what tore it apart. Doesn’t need to be fancy. Even a compilation of interviews would do. Also, would love to get the presses running on a reprint of XTC: Chalkhills & Children by Chris Twomey.

Ian Schafer Founder and Chairman/CEO of Deep Focus (a part of Engine Group), is one of advertising’s most influential voices in advertising and digital media. Prior to founding Deep Focus in 2002, Ian was Vice President of the New Media division of Miramax Films. Deep Focus, a global, digitally-led creative agency, boasts a client roster that includes companies such as Nestlé, Purina, Frito-Lay, Johnson & Johnson, Ebay, Intel, Samsung, Ubisoft, and many others. A 2015 AAF Advertising Hall of Achievement Inductee, and named a ‘Media Maven’ by Advertising Age and one of Adweek’s “Young Ones”, and “Best CEO Social Media Presence” by the Shorty Awards, Ian has been featured as an expert in digital culture, media and advertising in publications such as Wired, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Adweek, Advertising Age, USAToday, New York Magazine, Variety, CNN, Fortune and The Hollywood Reporter. Ian was also the satirist behind the popular 2012 election meme & twitter account, “@InvisibleObama”. A father of 3 and husband of 1, Ian is an avid technologist who blogs at http://www.ianschafer.com and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ischafer.

1) what were you really glad you read THIS year.
The Onion. Still. For things like this. Also, the Recode/Decode Podcast has been great. Especially Peter Kafka’s media interviews.

2) what do you hope to read NEXT year;
Next year, I plan on actually doing more podcast listening (I hope that counts). More and more journalists and storytellers are discovering the format, and it’s unleashed a wave of quality content that has become very difficult to choose from.

3) and what do you hope someone writes because you’d buy it in a heartbeat.
I hope someone writes more honestly about the ad industry. There is still so much broken and/or hidden, and real issues must continue to be raised. The Valley has created a bubble in the ad services business (thanks to their heavy investment in modern publishers), and it’s affecting everyone.

Header illustration by the exceptionally artful Jason Roeder. See more of his fine work here.