12 Jul Book Review: Funny Business by Allen Rosenshine
Funny Business: Moguls, Mobsters, Megastars and the Mad, Mad World of the Ad Game is a collection of 68 personal anecdotes from Allen Rosenshine, chairman emeritus of BBDO Worldwide, a renowned ad agency. Since Rosenshine spent over four decades with BBDO, there are plenty of stories to relate. Many involve famous and respected individuals: politicians, actors, and sports icons.
The problem with Funny Business is that many of the incidents would likely be amusing if the reader knew the participants on a personal level, but as an outside observer, the stories are more likely viewed as an inside joke that we’re not quite privy to. A glance at the raving reviews on the back cover reveals that most of the promoters were either players in Rosenshine’s stories or had direct relations with him in some way, to reiterate this point. Rosenshine does his best to introduce us to the characters, but he just falls short of the writer’s flair that makes a character as familiar to the reader as family. Also, most of the anecdotes are more ironic than funny: stories that make you shake your head in amazement rather than double up in laughter. This applies to the stories featuring more prominent figures the public would recognize. Perhaps if Rosenshine meant “funny” to mean “odd” or “quirky” rather than “amusing,” the title would be more appropriate, but it doesn’t appear that was his intention.
Overall, the stories are interesting little tidbits that serve to reinforce public assumptions about the advertising industry. They just lack the draw that keeps the reader eagerly turning pages for the next engagement. After a time, it begins to feel more like required reading than recreational reading. I think the author thought he was providing the reader with a privileged view into a career path which most people aren’t familiar with. Today’s consumer is adept at seeing through advertising and analyzing the intentions, and already has preconceived notions about the advertising industry that are, for the most part, right on target.
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Funny Business: Moguls, Mobsters, Megastars and the Mad, Mad World of the Ad Game
Hardcover, ©2006, Beaufort Books, 277 pages