Thursday, October 8, 2009

Advertising against advertising can suck, too.

I work in advertisement. I also read Adbusters (here). If you know anything about Adbusters, you might let out a confused "Huh?" Adbusters is a publication centered around a movement to subvert ultra-consumerist culture (read American culture) and promote a more sustainable global outlook.

From their website:

Ok, so how do I reconcile these two things? Well, a lot of advertising sucks. There are a lot of things, like prescription medications, that shouldn't be advertised to the general public. There is a lot of advertising noise for products that don't need advertised at all. Example: Coke and Pepsi pour tons of money into ads, but they aren't converting anyone. Everyone out there knows about Coca Cola. Now, they have reasons to keep up the ads, and I love some of the ads these two Goliaths produce, but wouldn't one humungous ad during the Super Bowl be enough?

Anyways, I digress. What I really wanted to address is Adbusters, and their continued campaign to get "subvertising" on television. Again and again, they are refused advertising spots.

Their latest spot, shown below, is an example:

Commercial Breakers from Douglas Haddow on Vimeo.

This spot has been turned down by FOX and MTV, and I, for one, am glad.

I hate this spot for the same reason I love Adbusters. It sucks. It's bad advertising. The typography is nearly unreadable (and they seem to know it, since their last long bit of copy changes typefaces). The actors suck, and it's as much a promotion of hipster fashion as it is an attack on major brands.

Most of all, it's more noise. The reason commercials are louder and more colorful and more frenetic than the TV shows they surround (or that surround them, depending on how you look at it) is an effort to break through the clutter. Adding more clutter ain't going to help.

I'm proud of the ads I've done. Most of them have been interactive (websites) so they are, by definition, permission marketing. You have to want to go there. The little TV and outdoor I've done has been for a good cause, Boy Scouts of America. I feel like, in my own way, I'm reducing the suckishness of advertisements.

Imagine a world where the ads we see are well-done, for products we can make a rational decision about buying, and don't make anyone look dumb just to sell a product. If we can get there, we'll all be a little saner.