Friday, September 21, 2007

A gallery of horrible agency house ads

So, I managed to scam a copy of the program for Advertising Week, and what I came away with was not so much a full understanding of every event being held next week, but a complete understanding of how unbelievably bad the agency house ads in the program are. (Sorry for the big gaps between each ad ... blame Blogger.) Now, I know that Lee Clow doesn’t break away from meetings with Steve Jobs to go make a print ad for the Advertising Week program, but, really, these agencies should be embarrassed they let this work out the door. While there were many ads in the program that were merely blasé, the four below each stood out in their own way. (The DraftFCB one, I admit, mostly for not featuring a lion. At least it has a concept.) I did the scans of each ad at Staples, and I admit the quality is poor, but maybe that’s somehow fitting. Read on and laugh—or cry.


Description: A strand of DNA made out of lightbulbs with the following caption at the bottom: "What is in Your DNA? Welcome to Advertising Week 2007."
Offense: Moving away from that lion concept.


ion: Rows of monkeys sitting at computers, under the headline, "If a million monkeys typed on a million computers for a million years, eventually they would come up with every great idea and line in the history of advertising. Here's to all the primates who've done it sooner."
Say what?


Description: So banal and readily apparent it doesn't need one.
Offense: Apparently working overtime to dispel the notion that it is one of the best creative agencies in the business. And what does a picture of two people high-five-ing each other have to do with loving advertising? BTW, when you go to you are met with this sentence, and this sentence alone: "You are a loser." How's that for celebrating the ol' ad biz?

AGENCY: Young & Rubicam

Description: Picture of Groucho Marx, or picture of Ray Rubicam pretending to he's Groucho Marx. Hard to tell. It says Ray Rubicam on the bottom border of the picture, followed by equally inexplicable copy: "Advertising. Who knew?" The closing line: "Happy Advertising Week as we celebrate an industry that continues to amaze."
Offense: Where to begin? With a picture that really has nothing to do with the ad business, even it is Ray Rubicam pretending he's Groucho Marx? With copy that's only reason for being is to try to explain the inexplicable picture? No, the real offense is that this is the worst house ad I've ever seen, and that includes DraftFCB's infamous lion ad. At least, that, too, had a concept.


Anonymous said...

Well, you know what they say: "the shoemakers children...."

Anonymous said...

Catherine, I think you have lost you ability to sense any sarcasm in advertising, TBWA's ad isn't meant to to try to be a good house ad, it says 99% of advertising sucks and is intrusive and if you think everybody loves advertising you are a loser, are you a loser?

Anonymous said...

Nah dude, I think she got it.
She just didn't think it was all that clever to be insulting the rest of the industry like that during Advertising Week.

Even if you are TBWA

Catharine P. Taylor said...

Of course, I agree with that last guy. To expound upon what probably doesn't deserve expounding upon:

a) TBWA presents us with a print ad that is meant to import some level of irony, but as a stand-alone ad--without going to the URL--it doesn't pass the test. It simply looks like a bad ad.

b) Then, as a reward to those people who make the effort to log on to the URL in the print ad, TBWA tells them they are losers.


Anonymous said...

i have to disagree catharine. i think the sarcasm screams off of the tbwa ad. i mean, come on, a high-five? the irony is pretty clear. is it a good ad? not sure, but i certainly like it a lot more than the other ones that are posted.

Jason Fox said...

Yeah, I'm really digging the TBWA ad. Multi-culti stock shot complete with symbolic pillars of strength and super-kickin' high five. Wish the line at the website was funnier, though.

Alan Wolk said...

To Catherine's point, it's the context of the TBWA ad that's so troubling.

I mean it's in a magazine/program thing aimed at OTHER AD AGENCIES.

And the message is basically "Advertising really sucks. Except ours. And since we recognize that advertising sucks, we're even cooler for making advertising that doesn't suck. As opposed to the rest of you, who, you know, still think advertising's really good."

I mean it's a common posturing in adland, right-- how many times have you heard some creative claim "I really hate advertising."

But when an agency's doing it in a program aimed at celebrating the industry, it's kind of well, off-brand

HighJive said...


you obviously have not seen a lot of chiat's recent work. their advertising sucks.