Sad Men: A Memoir by Dave Roberts

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Sad Men: A Memoir by Dave Roberts

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An amusing and elighgtening look at Dave Roberts' obsession with getting a job at Saatchi and Saatchi - and a trip down advertising memory lane.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: March 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0593071304

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Before he was twenty Dave Roberts had had a lot of jobs - far too many to list - but he really wanted to work in advertising and specifically for Saatchi and Saatchi, whom he saw as the best advertising agency and given their predominance in the early years of the eighties it's hard to argue with his judgement. The only problem was that jobs with the agency were hard to come by and Dave eventually accepted that he would have to start rather lower down the ladder with the intention of working his way up to the top. And that rung at the bottom of the ladder was a job with an agency in Leeds.

Whilst the men at the top of the ladder were producing some iconic ads Dave was deep in the world of second hand car dealerships and washing machine manufacturers. Dress forms for seamstresses were a particular highlight, if not a joy, with some meat of uncertain provenance lasting a long time in his freezer at the other end of the scale. In the early days his copywriting skills were, er, unformed and he learned on the job, taking 'inspiration' from the work of award winners. His primary aim was building a portfolio which would get him into Charlotte Street, but in fairness the client did sometimes benefit too. Dave's climb of the ladder took him from Leeds to Manchester and eventually to New Zealand, where, ironically, he had an amazing opportunity to work for Saatchi and Saatchi and become a millionaire - at a firm he'd just left.

You have probably realised by now that this is not a story of Dave's rise to greatness in the advertising industry. It's a heart-warming memoir of the life of a man who has done his best and made his mistakes - much like the rest of us. I laughed. Occasionally I wanted to shout that he shouldn't do something - but I was totally engaged in the story, hoping for the best whilst being prepared for the worst.

It's not just a memoir - it's also a nostalgic trip through advertising (some iconic and some, er, not) over three decades. There are some black and white prints (which are not entirely successful) to jog the memory and it was fascinating to look at these through Dave's knowledgeable eye. It was a good read which I got through far more quickly than I was expecting and too soon for my taste. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For fiction about advertising, have a look at Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris. For facts try The Unprincipled: The Unvarnished Truth About Running a Marketing Agency - from Start-up to Sell-out by David Croydon. Must-Have: The Hidden Instincts Behind Everything We Buy by Geoffrey Miller looks at advertising from the target's point of view.

Buy Sad Men: A Memoir by Dave Roberts at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sad Men: A Memoir by Dave Roberts at

Buy Sad Men: A Memoir by Dave Roberts at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sad Men: A Memoir by Dave Roberts at


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