The Genesis Of Ideas

Hugh MacLeod is far from excited by the work coming out of the ad industry. That much we know. But what does excite Mr. MacLeod?

The Cluetrain wasn’t written by a Leo Burnett employee.
Movable Type wasn’t invented by McCann.
RSS wasn’t invented by JWT.
Robert Scoble doesn’t work for Fallon.
Techmeme wasn’t invented by Saatchi.
Advertising people are supposed to be in “the idea business”. But none of the ideas that have excited me in the last 5 years or so have come from Madison Avenue. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

He seems particularly excited by technology and its rapid advancement into our lives.
As for me, I’m more excited by the rise of eco-consciousness and the great potential green businesses have before them. I’m excited that Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes make The Allman Brothers Band sound the way they do. I’m excited when I catch a fish and later grill it to perfection.
If there’s a point to this ramble, it’s that advertising is work. I look for my inspiration away from work with the hope that it can later help fuel my work when I return to it.
That being said, there’s no letting ad people off the hook for repeatedly turning in safe, totally irrelevant, pompous work. Idea people need to be entreprenurial. Sadly, widespread agency consolidation is stamping out creative cultures in favor of corporate cultures, run by bean counters not visionaries.
While I don’t find RSS nor Scoble all that exciting, I do like that big ideas are coming from small teams and individuals. The ad biz can get its mojo back. The formula is rather pedestrian: Put small teams in charge of big projects, then get out of the way.

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. does anyone really give a shit about people who criticize the ad industry? oh, wait a minute. that category would include me.

  2. I just left this post on the gapvoid…thought I’d toss it out here as well
    when was advertising responsible for creating RSS, Moveable Type or Scobble?
    I’m not defending advertising, i agree advertising needs better work these days…but within the context of its means.
    As an example, does an agency create RSS or does an agency figure out how to use the new RSS as a channel to reach/engage/talk/awareness for product to a consumer?
    what are the “ideas” you think ad agencies are responsibile for?

  3. Ad agencies need to be responsible for generating ideas that grow a client’s business. There is no limit to what these ideas might be.

  4. Onkar Nath says:

    hi this is onkar, i have posted several message regarding my AD making creativity, but I don’t think anyone is interested.
    Again I am appealing to You all , please provide me some assignement related to AD making.