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A review of “Goodvertising”

Posted by Reuben Turner | 13-10-2012 20:59 | Academy | Category: Corporate Social Responsibility, Design, Reviews, Interviews, Social Marketing

A review of ‘Goodvertising’, a new book about ‘good’ advertising compiled by Thomas Kolster and published by Thames & Hudson.
It’s a good book –a bit like Osocio, printed out.

Goodvertising is a heavy book. It’s a thorough look at advertising initiatives and campaigns of the last few years that have an ethical dimension. Given how many books are published on advertising and design (not to mention awards annuals and magazines) it’s surprising that something like Goodvertising hasn’t been published before.


On one level, it’s a very well researched compendium of campaigns from around the world that work at the level of ‘good’, from the commercial, government and NGO sectors. For that alone, I’d say it’s an essential investment for anyone who works in ‘good’ advertising, sustainability or responsibility and is just looking for some inspiration. You’ll find it here in spades and there’s barely a great campaign from the last decade that’s been left out.


For readers, there are interviews with leading figures from advertising, business and government – Alex Bogusky, David Droga and Mike Schalit all feature. And then, there’s the manifesto part. Thomas Kolster, the author, clearly wants more people who work in advertising to use it as a force for good. And that’s when I’m not quite sure who this book is aimed at. For people already doing this, it’s an opportunity to learn, be inspired, and think about doing it better. For people who aren’t, a book isn’t going to do the job, no matter how heavy it is. Creatives work on the briefs they get. Marketing directors are lead by business strategy and consumer needs – if that leads them to do good, then, well, good. So I am not really sure who Kolster’s manifesto of “get naked, get together and get out there” is for (I suspect the chief exec of BMW will need something a bit more nuanced). Nevertheless, the focus on transparency and collaboration definitely tap into significant cultural movements in how people interact with organisations.

In short, I think the pictures are often better than the words. But the pictures are well worth the cover price alone. And there are a lot of them.


Indeed, the task of organizing all that content must have been enormous, and that shows too. Car manufacturers rub shoulders with international NGOs. FMCG promotions share chapters with behaviour change campaigns. Packaging sits alongside digital platforms. It’s all a bit amorphous, but in many ways that only makes for a more enjoyable read. It’s a good ‘grab it off the shelf and open it at random’ book, as well as a ‘think about the 10 elements of a good campaign’ book.

It’s about time a book like this existed. Go and buy it.

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Osocio is dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.
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