A New South Wales Vent

“In the factory we make cosmetics, but in the store we sell hope.” -Charles Revlon
Michael Kiely: There’s an old joke in the ad biz: “You only need one thing to succeed in the advertising business: sincerity. And when you learn to fake that you’ve got it made!” The truth is not so far from the exaggeration. Anyone who has (like me) been in the ad game for any amount of time (I’ve done 20 years hard labour) can tell you that not only are the ads insincere, the people are too.
Advertising people aren’t ethically challenged. They are rarely challenged by anything or anyone. Ask anyone who has been a client of an ad agency. Did they laugh so hard at your jokes when you ceased being a client? Did they fawn on you and buy you amazing gifts and take you to expensive restaurants once your hand no longer fondled the purse strings? Surely they weren’t being insincere all that time?

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Do ad agency folks laugh any harder than insurance salesmen? Kiely’s point about the insincerity of advertising is well taken, but isn’t that what business is all about? What vendor doesn’t kiss their client’s ass?

  2. For sure, there’s plenty of hucksterism to go around.