Are The Fundamentals Of Advertising Fundamental Anymore?

Have you looked at this year’s CA Advertising Annual? Did you see any print ads or commercials that made you, “Holy shit, that’s cool’? Clearly, whatever innovation the advertising industry is doing is concentrated in new media technologies and tactics. So are the fundamentals worth teaching and practicing anymore?

Why should we care about the future of print? Well, only for this reason: We have the power to ruin, or save, the quality of advertising on any medium. And we ought to be looking at any tactic as a chance to do something unusual or extraordinary.

If agencies can’t, or won’t, do the basics right, there’s little hope they can pull off something more sophisticated. Same goes for individual creatives.

Unfortunately, it’s increasingly hard to pick up the average magazine and get inspired. And the traditional advertising sections of awards annuals like CA are shrinking. Learning to do a simple print ads or radio commercial is tougher when you’re surrounded by so many bad examples.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the home page tomorrow.

And of course, if you’d like to rest the best of 10 years’ worth of columns, you can do so for 3 cents a column on your Kindle or iPad.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I took your print advertising test today by turning every page of a local lifestyle magazine. And you’re correct, there’s no there there. Freaking sad.

    • Dan Goldgeier says:

      It’s a downward spiral, in a sense. And as I experimented with teaching 1st quarter portfolio school students, I realized that to find great print examples, you had to either take a chance at whatever’s on, or dig up older ads. Since we’re not surrounded by great advertising for the most part (leave digital out for the moment–it’s part of a broader conversation), we accept lower and lower standards. And if students can’t learn the finer points of typography, or headline writing, or art direction (or how they all work together), the spiral will be perpetuated.

      As my article states, I was amazed at the media rep’s compliment of my work – considering the publication advertises very high-value stuff, and the ads are done with seemingly such little thought put into them.