I Salute Thee, Rothenberg

Randall Rothenberg is letting go of his Ad Age column in order to assume the helm of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In his farewell piece, he delivers some delcious prose, the kind found in Where the Suckers Moon, his landmark book about Weiden + Kennedy’s handling of the Subaru account.

Although I was to the manor born, a child of marketers in a house guested frequently by creative revolutionaries, we baby boomers were raised to be conflicted by commercialism. Taking cues from our extremist manifesto, Mad magazine (a periodical then without advertising), we ridiculed the crass vulgarism of prime-time television, excoriated celebrities who sold out with product endorsements and pitied the fast-talking neurotics on Madison Avenue.
Except we secretly envied them. Ogilvy, Bernbach, Chiat — more recently Wieden, Goodby, Crispin — we revered the way they could move the culture. Sure, we recognized the detritus in our commercial environment. But we also understood that many of our privileges as Americans derived from a democratic capitalist economy premised on novelty-driven growth. And advertising is its fuel — “capitalist realist art,” in sociologist Michael Schudson’s famous phrase.

Rothenberg also mentions, Vinny Warren’s new enterprise, Escape Pod, in his farewell. Warren (an AdPulp reader) mentions that we all must “earn our audience” today.

About David Burn


  1. Randall is a very cool guy and a great writer. It was great to finally meet him.