The Garfield Brouhaha

Bob Garfield of Ad Age didn’t like reading about how his Super Bowl ad commentary was framed as “retarded” on the interweb’s most popular ad blog. So he did what any good citizen of Media 2.0 does—engage.

Here’s the difference between criticism and whatever it is you and your commenters do:
A critic makes judgments supported by analysis and argument, then signs his name and takes responsibility for his words.
What you do, and encourage your readers to do, is take cheap, anonymous potshots devoid of evidence, argument and, most often, facts. A common tactic is to grossly misrepresent somebody’s point of view — mine, let’s just say — and use that as a point of departure for ad homimen attacks.
It pisses me off, but more than that it makes me sad — sad to see how the internet has brought out so much meanness, childishness and, above all, cowardice.
“Retarded,” Steve? RETARDED? I know you’re in the snark-for-its-own-sake business (sad in itself) but you really should be ashamed of yourself.

Speaking of anonymous postings, Agency Spy has a good piece on why it so often goes down this way in online Adlandia.

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. David,
    I disagree with one sentence of your post: “So he did what any good citizen of Media 2.0 does—engage.”
    Honestly, the man should know better. In this case, a good citizen of Media 2.0 would have surfed elsewhere. He could have saved himself a lot of grief and embarrassment by simply taking a “sticks and stones” response. Instead, he ignited a mess that other blogs have jumped on too. Hell, his critique of Hall’s work (snark-for-its-own-sake) shows a certain cluelessness with present-day media.
    Garfield should reserve his wrath for Comcast. Believe me, the blogosphere will ignore his rants even more than the evil cable company.

  2. I am the blogosphere. And I did not ignore The Cat. Because staying out of it is an aloof Media 1.0 response. And The Cat didn’t do that.

    What the F is wrong with snark for snark’s sake.

  4. Carl LaFong says:

    Bob Garfield versus Steve Hall? Not exactly King Kong versus Godzilla. More like Bert versus Ernie.

  5. I’m with David on this, though I wish Mr. Garfield had simply defended his position with one well-crafted “high road” comment and left it at that. As it is now, by taking the bait from the snarky commenters and repeatedly posting more responses, he’s ignited an online playground argument where he’s the only one with anything to lose.

  6. Dang, fatc, that’s what I was saying. Maybe good citizens of Media 2.0 engage. But smart citizens know when not to engage—or know how to engage. Garfield blew it on a basic advertising level—he didn’t know his audience. That’s just one more reason why he’s not simply out of his element here. He’s out of his league.

  7. Actually, I wonder how long it will take before Garfield arrives at AdPulp. He admits to performing multi-daily Technorati searches on himself. And he’s notorious for jumping in to defend himself from the evil blog commentators out there, blasting people who dare to critique the critic. Anyone want to start a betting pool?