The Crisis Of Advertising

Bob Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman/Lewis and otherwise known as The Ad Contrarian, is taking a deeper look at the factors hampering the ad industry in a series of posts titled The Crisis of Advertising:

Advertising pundits are right about one thing. The ad industry is a fucking disaster.
They are wrong, however, about what is causing the problems.
The crisis is not being caused by the internet. The internet should be a boon to advertising.
The crisis is not being caused by “new media.” New media should be stimulating a creative resurgence.
The crisis is not the result of consumers becoming immune to advertising. The idea that consumers are suddenly immune to advertising is just plain nonsense.
Unfortunately, the causes of the crisis are much deeper and intractable. They revolve around three factors.
1. Consolidation of the ad industry
2. Talent and brain drain
3. Mindless me-too-ism

He’ll be explaining it further in some posts coming up. I’m staying tuned for this. Bob has a keen perspective and a very sharp tongue.

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. According to his 1-2-3, indie shops like his should be way ahead of the game, since they own themselves. I’ve worked for an Omnicom-owned shop and a True North-owned shop and for indie shops and there’s no doubt, that indie is the way to go. Conflict of interest doesn’t exist in an indie, and that’s a huge advantage for the new business people.
    His second point is the most interesting to me. I’m not sure I understand his third.

  2. Not sure I understand “indie is the way to go.” For me, it’s just a different set of challenges. At an indie shop, you’re unlikely to ever see Fortune 100 clients and the benefits associated with working for them. At the public shops, you’re unlikely to have as much control over your work. Actually, whether you’re indie or public, it just boils down to leadership and the environment the leaders create.
    I think the problems of the advertising industry are rooted in two things: ignorance and arrogance.
    It’s pretty abstract, but you can tie the two to every problem with any shop or client.

  3. I’d be curious to hear what the advantages of working for Fortune 100 companies are, exactly? I’m not saying there aren’t any. I’m saying that particular group can also be a royal pain in the ass.
    On ignorance and arrogance, I hear you completely.

  4. Danny: Thanks for the nice mention. Hope I don’t disappoint.
    David: You’re right. Title of the third point is shitty. With any luck, the actual post will be clearer.
    Four H: Bingo. Problem with the world is ignorance and arrogance.

  5. Well, Fortune 100 clients are definitely a pain in the ass. But then again, are they really significantly different than smaller clients? I’ll admit, they are becoming more difficult as they grow more committee-driven. But there are as many small clients wanting to rewrite your copy as big clients.
    That said, the advantages include bigger budgets and higher standards of excellence. Don’t mean to sound elitist, but it helps when you’re able to partner with A-list directors, photographers, illustrators, designers, music houses, etc. I’ve always said the only major difference between the creative at W+K and local agencies are access to money and partners.

  6. meant to type: the only major difference between the creatives—meaning the people coming up with the ideas, not the work itself.

  7. W+K is an independent agency, interestingly enough.
    And I’m with you on the fact that talent is spread throughout the business (if they only had the opportunity to shine).
    Funny how that point negates Hoffman’s second argument, though. Bob?

  8. Most importantly – the wholesale walking away from the importance of great creativity and the ‘big idea’ and instead blindly following the ‘new media svengalis’ and ‘planningbloggerpherists’ and hypnotic chart-producing windbags with titles like ‘anthropolgy connections & agnostic media planning and ideation experts.’
    Unfortunately, the REAL doers are way too busy doing, leaving these wonderful talkers with an open mic and total influence.