Pioneers of Digital (Paul Springer and Mel Carson) is a collection of 20 interviews and case studies looking at the founders of digital marketing, the ones who did it by design and those by accident.
In grad school one of my assignments required analyzing a case study from a book. Unfortunately the RMIT library’s marketing and PR section hadn’t been added to since 1990. Small exaggeration. Pioneers of Digital would have been my go-to.
Most of the interviews are essentially case studies of their careers. I loved reading what lead June Cohen to put Ted Talks online, discovering how many people started their careers in totally unrelated areas and fell into marketing and technology, and how success comes from making a difference, not by trying to make money. Two case studies told the story of hugely popular campaigns. I remember wasting a lot of time with Subservient Chicken without knowing it was a Burger King promotion. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has continued to inspire women 10 years after its launch.
My favorites were Kyle MacDonald’s One Red Paperclip and, the surprising inclusion, Stephen Fry. Both chapters had more storytelling and feeling than the others, and that’s taking my bias aside. I’m a sucker for great marketing from outside the industry.
Pioneers of Digital closes with a statistics-filled summary of the up-and-coming digital marketing cities, and lessons from the pioneers interviewed. If the initial chapters are a bit hard to get through, the book is worth it for these two chapters.