Bob Garfield’s Ad Review Under Review.

27 May

Just because you hate French fries and burgers, does that mean you can condemn most of hamburger advertising?

This isn’t a rhetorical question, but one aimed specifically at Bob Garfield, Advertising Age ’s ad reviewer at large, whose recent column of the ‘Im lovin’ it’ ads in the May 17, 2004 issue, are totally off the rails. I must, in the interest of full disclosure and all that, say that I am not even a huge fan of McDonald’s. Also, the company I work for does finance restaurants. However, I have no friends at the Golden Arches, or any other remote connection with the restaurant.

The reason I take up Garfield’s review for review, is that I am a long time reader of Advertising Age, and have always read his column –one of the first things in the mag, in fact. However, there’s something very odd about them now. He’s often whining about things totally unrelated to marketing and advertising. Either he has nothing to say, so he says it in abstract, negative ways, or he’s lost it.

In a recent review of the advertising on NBCs Friend’s finale (May 10 issue), while grudgingly praising one commercial (Dodge), he couldn’t resist taking a shot at the “drippy” last episode of “Friend’s.” What if reviewers of one genre took up the mantle of reviewing everything else around it? Hey Mr. Film critic, why not analyze the popcorn at the theatres while you’re at it?

To get back to this column, I think Ad Age readers deserve better –someone who can do more than throw zingers at marketers, products and ad agencies. Even while delivering a half-baked apology for being wrong and ‘delusional’ about the “I’m lovin’ it” line, he goes on about ‘crappy meals’ and indigestion etc.

If you skipped first half the column (about 6 paragraphs), you would have not missed anything. Ok, so perhaps these were a really bad bunch of ads, but at least a reader has a right to know what are the elements that make them weak/poor/awful.

Take this comment:

“But maybe they aren’t meant to be advertising, so much as jingle-conveyance mechanisms –much as McDonald’s fries convey oil and salt.”

What’s that analogy supposed to shed light on? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and agree that the ads are excuses for jingles. But does that give him a right to assume that McDonald’s sells fries as a way to make you ingest oil and salt?

OK, I get it:

Garfield’s reviews aren’t meant to be ad criticism, so much as unrelated-wisecrack mechanisms –much as Advertising Age is an excuse to deliver 163 pages of puffy editorials and spicy ads.

Heck, I know many people who can write stuff like this. In fact I just might start doing mock-reviews, just to see if you can tell the difference.

Stay tuned!

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Posted by on May 27, 2004 in Communications


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