Reading List: The Happy Soul Industry, by Steffan Postaer

By Matt Van Hoven 

Somehow in between meetings and client calls and convincing the world to buy his clients’ products EuroRSCG Chairman and CCO Steffan Postaer found the time to write “The Happy Soul Industry” and yes it came out months ago but we just got around to reading it. It was meh.

The Story

David Angelo is an angel who was once mortal. He’s been sent back to earth by god to represent Heaven, aka The Happy Soul Industry, which needs a campaign to convince people that being good should be higher on their priority list.

To help meet that end, Angelo meets with a top LA boutique, Chloe Night & Wiener &#151 whose top people are addicted to drugs and sex and being assholes and oh now they have to pitch this random dude whose company wants people to be good. Antics ensue, including a lot of sex and then some more sex.

The Issues
Maybe it was the kooky re-working of our general notions on God and the devil and angels and heaven or maybe it was the fact that the main plot completely evaporates about two-thirds through and another storyline takes over or maybe we’re just jaded. Or maybe it was a confluence of these things that, despite our best attempts at giving Postaer a break, we couldn’t reconcile.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t love this book. A battle Postaer was forced to deal with is each and every reader’s notions of God, advertising, LA v. New York and the afterlife. Changing these things for the purposes of a book is fine (necessary in many cases), but it has to be convincing, which this was not. Strong Christian types will, without question, find HSI incredibly difficult to read &#151 if for no other reason than the fact that it takes a somewhat baseless view of God, oh and not to mention says that Jesus was a myth. Since Jesus is the lynchpin of Christianity, it takes a lot of “OK this is it’s own thing &#151 just let it be its own thing” to get through, natch. We can understand Postaer’s need to create a palpable version of god, but the one he created for HSI makes very little sense &#151 maybe because we only get a superficial description of the reasons-why god is the way “She” is.

The Advertising
What kept the pages turning for us was an acute desire to find out the campaign strategy that CN&W would concoct for HSI. In the end, it was compelling and probably could be put to use if God indeed came down and tossed your agency an RFP.

Obviously, Poster is of high-rank and therefore capable of writing accurately about the people in this story and the business they tend to. He’s seen it all, and we were happy to see him weave such a well-conceived storyline re: the practice of advertising and the theology/philosophy (as it were) of persuasion.

If you work in advertising and you read this book (which, despite the issues, I recommend you do) you will undoubtedly come away chuckling and maybe wondering if you’re in the right line of work. For what it’s worth, Postaer still works in the biz, so we assume he feels confident that this story is just a story, and you needn’t reevaluate your careers &#151 unless of course, you’re working for the devil.

More: “Reading List: The King Of Madison Avenue

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