The Communications Arts Advertising Annual: Is This As Good As It Gets?

April 6, 2009 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

I just finished thumbing through the most recent Communication Arts Advertising Annual which came out in December. It’s usually a book that leaves me feeling fired up about being in the advertising business. This time, not really. In fact, when I put the book down I felt disappointed. There was very little that made me say, “I wish I had done that.” 

A few observations about why. 

1. The quality of the copywriting seemed weak. Granted, CA is a book that always skews towards art direction and design more than writing, but so much of the work was built around headlines that were puerile, pretentious, overwrought or just dumb. The outdoor that Crispin did for Volkswagen is an example of great advertising? Please.

2. Too many public service ads. This is shooting fish in a barrel. CA and all awards shows should have a little shame about the proportion of honors that are handed out for PSAs.

3. Too many ads that were fakes either in name or spirit. I’ve worked in really big agencies. I know how easy it is to get an ad run once for free so you can enter it in an awards show. When you see an ad or point-0f-sale piece for a major packaged goods company that looks nothing like any advertising you’ve ever seen from the brand and looks like nothing that would run anyplace that brand would actually advertise, you should be deeply suspicious. Should award shows really be about who is best at gaming the system? In too many cases, that’s exactly what they are right now.

Did I hate everything? By no means. Love the Activision work from DDB LA. Love Whopper Freakout. Love a a lot of the art direction. But I really didn’t like what the Advertising Annual as a whole said about the direction the industry is headed.

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Entry filed under: Advertising and Marketing.

Will we need copywriters and art directors in the post-advertising era? Fear, desire and coaxing dead presidents from the pockets of consumers.

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