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

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.