Most advertising is rubbish, that’s what I like about it


And so it begins, another year at the coal-face of global advertising.

And a moment to reflect on why I keep at it after all these years. Why commit myself so wholeheartedly to a profession legendary BBH planner Jim Carroll, recently described as “a trivial career for serious people”.

Of course there are a host of reasons why I still love working in advertising, not least the way that it metamorphoses over time to suit the technology and culture of the age. Oh and being surrounded by clever, creative and interesting people all day, that’s nice too.

But I am reasonably convinced that the main reason is that the vast majority of advertising is so damn inadequate. The lion’s share of the work this industry creates is ineffective, ill judged, irritating and some of it downright immoral.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that’s what keeps me keen. I am not and have never been an apologist for advertising, quite the contrary I remain an eternal critic. For it is in anger about the inadequacies of an industry that you can effect change.

My continued interest in advertising is precisely because there is so much to be done to improve it.

To improve the results it delivers to businesses and causes so that advertising is and potent commercial tool delivering effect not just efficiency. Challenging the new orthodoxies of ineffectual advertising as much as the old.

To improve the quality of the industry’s output and defeat the strategic stupidity, creative amateurism and shoddy craft that pervades much of the business.

To hack away at approaches to advertising that are invasive and disrespectful, a constant threat to the truce between people and advertising but now in overdrive as the adtech industry shits on everyone’s doorstep.

And to hold the business to account over its many impacts on society, both clear and obvious (promoting sectors or products that are damaging and harmful) and covert and insidious (from everyday sexism to the inadequate reflection of society). Advertising works through social consent and we must never forget that.

It is for these reasons that I remain a keen student of advertising and one of those that wants to make this business work better and produce better work.

Others might enjoy careers of moral certainty, universal social acceptance and clear effectiveness but I don’t and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



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2 Replies to “Most advertising is rubbish, that’s what I like about it”

  1. Richard
    Happy New Year!
    Nice post to start the year.
    That’s what keeps me going too :)

  2. Richard
    Happy New Year!
    Nice post to start the year.
    That’s what keeps me going too :)
    The old rule of 10-20-70 is alive and well. But in the digital world it’s more like 1-4-95. That’s to say 95% is irrelevant and doesn’t work!

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