Marketers' Summer Must-reads

Ad Age Polled Executives to Find out What Books They're Picking up This Season

Published on .

With the dog days of summer upon us, it's time to grab a good book and hit the beach -- or an air-conditioned refuge somewhere. But with so many marketing and business books out there, which ones are worth a closer look? Ad Age asked execs for their top picks.

Chief brand officer, Deckers Outdoor Corp.
WHAT I'M READING: "Little Bets" by Peter Sims and "Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, ZMOT" by Jim Lecinski
WHY: Peter Sims takes on the belief that innovation requires a bright flash of genius or giant leap of faith and makes a pretty good case that the biggest ideas, best comedy routines or most breathtaking architectural feats begin as little bets, pursued with persistence and confidence. And "ZMOT" because I like to know what Google is up to.

Group director-Marketing, Odwalla
WHAT I'M READING: "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right" by Atul Gawande
WHY: I found this book to be ironically inspiring. The simple "old school" checklist can be the best solution to dealing with complexity in today's digital age. The book shows how leaders can use checklists to produce greater accuracy, excellence and even new thinking, while helping lead their teams.

Senior VP-marketing and commercial strategy, JetBlue Airways
WHAT I'M READING: "Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger" by Fintan O' Toole and "Start with the Answer: And Other Wisdom for Aspiring Leaders" by Bob Seelert
WHY: I am reading two business books. First is : "Ship of Fools," a great read on how Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy was more of an illusion than anything else. Second is : "Start with the Answer." Bob Seelert, chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, is a wonderful storyteller, and I've gotten some very useful management and marketing tips already.

VP-marketing, Illy Cafee North America
WHAT I'M READING: "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek
WHY: It is my absolute favorite marketing book. My husband, who works at DraftFCB, recommended I read it. This book cleverly connects how people make decisions (within their limbic brain, which controls our feelings) with the information people need to know to make them. The idea is to start with why (vs. how and what) because it is our hopes and dreams (our feelings and our hearts) that drive our decision-making. We rationalize our decisions as a second step with facts, figures, etc. using hows and whats. The theory can be easily applied to brand-building.

Chief marketing and commercial officer, Coca-Cola
WHAT I'M READING: "And the Pursuit of Happiness" by Maira Kalman
WHY: I was at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, on the Fourth of July and acquired this book. Since our Coca-Cola global campaign is "Open Happiness," I'm always looking to get a better understanding of "happiness." The book is filled with art and handwritten text by Kalman, making it a marvelously quirky, yet poignant, look at Americana, democracy and the true art of happiness. It is wrapped in her impeccable wit and wisdom. It is better for me to understand the human condition than to read more books on segmentation.

CMO, Heineken USA
WHAT I'M READING: "Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders" by Adam Morgan
WHY: I'm currently re-reading "Eating the Big Fish." The philosophy behind the book is that every brand should act as a challenger by establishing a "lighthouse identity," which provides a clear point of view around values that are truly important to its consumers.

Senir VP-CMO, Pultegroup
WHAT I'M READING: "Look at More: A Proven Approach to Innovation, Growth, and Change" by Andy Stefanovich and "Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes" by Tamim Ansary
WHY: "Look at More" is all about innovation and creativity and bringing fun into the business place. I think that for the future of any marketer, perfecting your innovation strategy is so important. I'm also reading "Destiny Disrupted," which is , in part, a look at how things grow and what happens when they implode. I've been in the auto business and now the housing business ... when does a country, culture, and economy begin to grow again?

CMO, Subway
WHAT I'M READING: "Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon" by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner and "The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society" by Peter Drucker
WHY: The last several years were like a modern-finance laboratory, even though the results were often painful. I am also re-reading Peter Drucker's classic management book. Although it is over 40 years since it was first published, it was very prescient.

VP-marketing, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
WHAT I'M READING: "Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant" by David A. Aaker
WHY: David Aaker's take on brand strategy is right in line with our evolving business needs, and he offers a compelling vision for how to move forward in a complicated and crowded marketplace.

Senior VP-global chief marketer, Beam Global Spirits and Wine
WHAT I'M READING: "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" by Daniel Okrent and "Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, ZMOT" by Jim Lecinski
WHY: "Last Call" is all about the history of my business. From "ZMOT," I'm learning and reinforcing that we need to be there for our consumers wherever and whenever they want to learn, be educated or be entertained by us. It's on their time, not ours!

VP-marketing and non-book merchandising, Borders Group
WHAT I'M READING: "Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul" by Howard Schultz
WHY: It's an exceptional look at the turnaround of the Starbucks business and what made the reinvention successful from a strategy, product, marketing and leadership perspective.

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