In The Hands Of A Good Writer, Adlandia Can Be A Fascinating Place

Ad Age is running an edited excerpt from Adland by former Y&R creative director, James P. Othmer.
As you surely know, there are more books on advertising available than any rational human being has time for. But I must say, this one looks good.
Here’s Othmer on why he chose to write a book on advertising, following the success of his novel, The Futurist:

While doing press for my novel, a funny thing happened. While some questions were about the book, most were about advertising. Why was it such a huge part of our culture? Was it responsible for globalization? The downfall of our youth? What’s the most despicable ad you ever made? The most despicable thing you ever saw?
My answers surprised me. Rather than rattling off witty renunciations of my past and the industry that had employed me, I found myself publicly defending advertising, and then, later, privately thinking about its role in my life and our culture more deliberately and sincerely than I had in the previous 20 years.

I know that feeling of surprise. I’ve spent years here going over these very questions. At first I figured I do some muckraking and be done with it, but that’s not what happened. What happened is I became an activist for better, more honest work.
Othmer also makes note of the characters ad people meet. “Because of advertising, I got to travel the world and meet many smart, talented and powerful people, from CEOs and artists to four-star generals and Carrot Top,” he writes.
While not everyone in advertising stays at Shutters and parties with rock stars, it is safe to say our industry is full of characters (who regularly entertain the smart, talented and powerful). Undoubtedly, it’s one of the best things we have going for us.



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.