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Advertising Concept Book
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The Advertising Concept Book
by Pete Barry is the bestselling guide to
creative ideas, strategies and campaigns
– for students and professionals.

In creative advertising, no amount of glossy presentation will improve a bad idea. That’s why this book is dedicated to the first and most important lesson: concept.

Pete Barry outlines the fundamental tools needed to ‘push’ an ad into something exceptional. Structured to provide both a complete course and a quick reference,
it explores the creative process across traditional, interactive and social media.

Fifty years’ worth of international, award-winning ad campaigns – in the form of over 500 sketches specially produced by the author – also reinforce the book’s core lesson: that a great idea will last forever.

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  • Introduction
  • 01Basic Tools
  • 02The Strategy
  • 03Print
  • 04The Campaign
  • 05The Tagline
  • 06Generating Strategies and Ideas
  • 07TV
  • 08Ambient
  • 09Interactive
  • 10Social
  • 11Copy
  • 12Radio
  • 13Integrated
  • 14Execution
  • 15Presenting and Selling Your Work
  • 16The Student Book
  • 17Conclusion
Advertising Concept Book Spread


'If you can’t afford three years at art school, try this book'

Sir John Hegarty, Creative Founder, BBH

'Terrific. I especially loved the sketches of the ideas rather
than making the thing into yet another anthology of great ads. It made me remember that these are human processes, with lots of decisions and give and take along the way'

Jeff Goodby, Co-Chairman and Partner, Goodby Silverstein & Partners

'Loved the book'

Tony Granger, Global Chief Creative Office, Y&R, New York

'I love how this book is all about the creative process and features tons of scribbles, which is how all great ideas start'

Luke Sullivan, Author of 'Hey Whipple, Squeeze This'; Creative Director, GSDM, Austin

'A worthwhile read for ad people'

Kevin Roddy, Chairman & CCO, Riney, San Francisco; Chairman, The One Club, New York

'This is the book I wanted to write one day. I’m so glad Pete Barry did it before me. I could never have done it better, and it’s a lot less work'

Louis-Thomas Pelletier, Co-Creative Director, Sid Lee, Montréal

'In an age where computer skills allow you to make bad ads faster, a book finally arrives about the basic building block of all great ads'

Earl Cavanah, Group Creative Director, DDB, New York

'Highly recommended'

Cecilia Gorman, VP/Director of Creative Services, Y&R Advertising, Irvine

'Outstanding. If you haven’t already stolen a copy from an unsuspecting undergrad on an informational interview, I highly recommend picking up a copy of your own'

Daniel Domagala, President, Russell Herder, Minneapolis

'A great book'

Sona Valipour, Journalist, Publisher & Management Consultant, University of Tehran, Iran

'A wonderful book that assists me a great deal'

Inbal Amit, Copywriter and Marketing Writer, College of Jerusalem, Israel

'Pete Barry has managed to show us how powerful simple ideas really are. Every creative, planning and account department in London should read this book'

Mark Orbine, Creative Director & Partner, VCCP, London


Zaur Mammadov, General Director, Maxmedia Advertising, Azerbaijan

'Whether you’re thinking of going into advertising or just starting out, this book has all the answers to questions you never even thought of asking'

Barbara Hamilton, Executive Creative Director, R/GA, New York

'A highly original angle for a book'

Kevin Palmer, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Kin Design, London

'A powerful resource'

Daniel Spencer, Strategic Director, Curveball Media, Norwich, UK

'Barry has provided a truly insightful read no matter which facet of marketing you represent. With its simple bite-sized structure this book works perfectly as both a complete course in generating concepts, and a simple quick reference guide.'

Joe Dizon, Designer, RPM, London

'A must for any Creative'

Jack Nolan, Creative Director, Digitas, New York

'Invaluable advice'

Creative Review

'Essential – and also very entertaining – reading for students of advertising as well as advertising professionals'

Archive (Lürzer’s International Archive)

'Sound advice'

Communication Arts

'A solid, fun, informative read'

CMYK magazine

'Hands down the best creative advertising book I have ever read!'

Inspired Magazine

'The Advertising Concept Book is no ordinary textbook'

Advertising Ideas magazine, Russia

'If you’re a student you should definitely steal buy this book. If you are involved in teaching design and media, you should buy three copies, one for you and two for your institution’s library.
If you are a professional in advertising and are wondering why you haven’t yet won any awards, buy The Advertising Concept Book and you might find out why'

The Designer’s Review of Books

'A terrific guide'

Paul Belford, Varoom magazine; Former Joint Creative Director Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

'The Advertising Concept Book is your guide to great thinking'

Dynamic Graphics + Create magazine

'You won’t find this much content and design analysis and detail in one volume anywhere else. Each page is a visual treat'

CMI (Content Marketing Institute)

'Tells you everything you need to know about advertising'

New Design magazine

'Enormously encouraging, practical and entertaining. If this book could stand in front of a class and talk, I'd be out of a job'

Tony Cullingham, Course Director The Watford Creative Advertising Course, UK

'One of the most difficult tasks in teaching advertising is imparting a conceptual approach toward problem solving. Pete Barry understands the complexities of this daring undertaking and does a remarkable job in piloting a practical course for this illuminating journey'

Richard Wilde, Chair, Advertising and Graphic Design Department School of Visual Arts, New York City

'This book is nothing short of brilliant'

Anthony Kalamut, Program Coordinator & Professor Creative Advertising, Seneca College, Toronto

'By far the best book out there for those who teach creative'

Assaf Avni, Professor of Advertising Creativity California State University, Fullerton

'This book supports our school’s philosophy: have a great concept before you run to the computer'

Maria Scileppi, Associate Director Chicago Portfolio School

'Comprehensive and intelligent. The pencil tracings help to emphasize the importance of smart layouts and simple art direction'

Dan Balser, Advertising Department Head The Creative Circus, Atlanta

'I use it, and I love it'

Lindsay Hadley, Professor of Advertising Design Savannah College of Art and Design

'The first useful book for helping students understand the creative process'

Jacquie Lamer, Advertising Professor Northwest Missouri State University

'A tremendous resource for advertising students and their instructors'

Norton Young, Academic Dept Director Art Institute of Portland

'A huge fan. Nothing is as effective at getting students to drill down and drill down to the actual idea behind the communication. I'm so glad to be free of the design sizzle that often acts as a distraction from the understanding of the idea'

Maureen O’Conner, Instructor, Creative Strategy Portland State University School of Business

'My favorite book'

Matt Flick, Vice President, Creative Director & Instructor School of Advertising Art, Kettering, Ohio

'If I were to write a book, this would be it'

Gord Oglan, Advertising Professor St. Clair College, Ontario

'I bought The Advertising Concept Book as a guide for my class and it was a great help. It describes clearly how to work with concepts and how to create a great idea'

JCarlos Elguet, Docente Universidad Tecnológica de Chile

'This book is an excellent tool for the creative process. A spectacular way to achieve the final objective: create good communications for brands, services and products'

Ricardo Bianchi, Professor of Advertising, Escuela Superior Creativos General Creative Director, Altheim, Buenos Aires

'I use the book as a reference to show students why ideation sketches are very important in developing great advertising'

Siti Raba'ah Abdul Razak, Lecturer Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

'A brilliant book, and perfect for students in our school of journalism. The focus on the conceptual idea is a great approach and a much needed way to teach campaigns'

Craig Davis, Professor of Advertising E. W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University

'Get it.'

Douglas Davis, Associate Professor, Communication Design NYC College of Technology, Brooklyn; Author, ‘Creative Strategy and the Business of Design’

'An exceptional book. Practical, informed by experience, packed with sound advice, well organized, and very well designed. It's the sort of book that’s been a long time coming'

Donald Fitzpatrick, Course Director, Graphic Design Coventry School of Art, UK

'The Bible for great advertising'

Steve Montgomery, Professor, Advertising Design Syracuse University, New York

'The book has made understanding the aspects of creating a successful campaign much more tangible and realistic. Graphic design students sometimes become jaded about advertising, but this book has really opened their eyes to the business'

Nigel Roe, Instructor, Graphic Design Program Holland College, Prince Edward Island

'I read The Advertising Concept Book cover to cover and found it, from both an advertising and educational standpoint, excellent. Brilliant illustrations and easy to follow, I would recommend this book to anyone educating students in creative advertising'

Diana Prior, Marketing/Advertising Teacher Dufferin-Peel Board, Ontario

'The book has made a huge difference in the students’ work'

Tim Mantz, Advertising Instructor Art Institute of Portland

'A great book which will be the new required text for our art direction classes'

Michael Rosen, Program Coordinator, Creative Advertising Humber College, Toronto

'For all of you looking for that inspiration book that gets down to "how you do this" then you have to read The Advertising Concept Book'

Deborah Morrison, Chair, Advertising + Brand Development University of Oregon

'Smart, organized, insightful and accessible. As an ex-practitioner and current educator, this book is gold'

Peter Sheldon, Senior Lecturer, Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

'My students routinely say this is their favorite textbook. Those who go on to work in advertising have written to tell me they still consult it regularly. The book explains complex ideas clearly and without condescension while engaging them with challenging yet fun exercises. It provides a perfectly balanced blend of helpful information, thoughtful research and applied activities'

Leah Shafer, Assistant Professor, Media and Society Program Hobart and William Smith Colleges

'Anyone can hire someone to execute their thinking. Thank you for a book that understands the importance of creative thinking, not just fancy execution'

Jennifer Johnson, Professor, SJMC University of Minnesota & Diedrich College, Marquette University