The Advertising Apprentice

March 23, 2011

Ode to the Adbusters

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 9:35 AM

Let me start off by saying that Adbusters is definitely not an advertising magazine! The closest connection to Adbusters and the advertising industry are the spoof ads scattered throughout each edition. You need to have an open-mind when reading this magazine. This definitely is not your copy of Advertising Age! But that’s not such a bad thing. After flipping through the pages of Adbusters and clicking through some of the content on the Adbusters website, one of the words that comes to mind is hipster. In turn I get the sense that ad agency people most likely to be reading this magazine are wet behind the ears, copywriters and not the tenured creative director.

With its shock value-esque covers that scream “pick me up”, like the one above of Obama and the image below of March/April’s cover, Adbusters is the perfect addition to your coffee-table. Visitors won’t be able to resist the urge to flip them through the pages and comment on all that’s contained within the front and back cover.

In addition to eye-catching covers, Adbusters offers well-executed spoof ads, great articles (I really enjoyed the article from the April/May 2011 edition on bipolar disorder; Adbusters offers its readers a different perspective. It’s the “outside of the box” approach that has become such a cliché in the advertising industry. This is a magazine that challenges your traditional way of thinking on bigger picture issues dominating headlines like WikiLeaks and the unfolding situation in Libya. Their views often cause moments of reflection where you pause and reexamine your position on the issue. Quite honestly, I appreciate Adbusters for facilitating this process. I most certainly don’t always agree with their position, but I’m open-minded enough to consider it and also critically examine my position on an issue when a strong argument is made.

As I’ve alluded to throughout this entry, Adbusters is definitely not for everyone. It is a socialist movement whose priority is to challenge consumerism. In their own words, they are “a global network of culture jammers and creatives working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power, and the way meaning is produced in our society.” Their spoof ads exemplify this mantra. No company is safe: Visa, Nike, and McDonalds have all been the victims of these spoof ads. Given that Adbusters challenges consumerism, which advertising is a key part of, the advertising industry has even been featured in an Adbusters campaign of spoof ads.

The notion of what Adbusters is, a voice that challenges our ideals should be embraced. We should be open-minded to what people on the other side of the argument have to say; accept their ideas, as they can be insightful.

The political landscape in Canada is trending towards a spring election being called in the very near future. So with the likelihood of Canadians heading to the polls, I’m putting together an entry on political advertising. The entry will focus on how these types of ads have become very aggressive in nature through attack ads and the entry will look at some memorable political spots.


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