Then we set his hair on fire2 min read

This book is about insights. Insights that lead to a zillion of ideas. Even when these ideas take different forms–a TV commercial is just one of them–one can still see the insight shining through.

And where does an insight fit in the overall scheme of things? RAISE–Research, Analyse, Insight, Strategy and Execution.

Phil Dusenberry gets to the point quickly and then reinforces the point in the subsequent chapters. While at it, he presents a slice of life from his illustrious career propped with real anectodes and management wisdom.

An adman all his life, Phil pays brief lip service to the science of advertising, describing the kind of background research that underlies great ad campaigns. He makes a strong case for research that is grounded in the customer reality. Data is just a means and not the end. Hence, research need not be an expensive and long drawn affair, sometimes it could be as simple as a trip to the restaurant or a movie or a chat with the target consumers. But he admits a greater faith in gut instinct sometimes overriding research.

He picks up the universal problems of any business–parity, moving the needle, launching, competition, mission and image–and presents his experiences with his clients like HBO, Mars, Cingular, Pizza Hut, Fedex, Pepsi and Ronald Reagen.

While the book is not about advertising, he offers interesting episodes involving Michael Jackson and Don Johnson. He also recounts how BBDO staged a pro bono campaign for New York City shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, using celebrities such as Henry Kissinger, Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal, Ben Stiller, and Barbara Walters to illustrate the power of the dreams that draw so many young people to the city, even today.

Finally, he presents a process to nurture and protect insights.

His sign off note? When you are armed with a powerful insight, the ideas never stop flowing.

Note: The cover design is a little misleading. You do get a feeling that you are in for a Archimedes-kind-of-serendepity throughout and the insights that followed. Instead the book outlines several other ways that lead to business-changing insights.