And Now a Few Words From Me : Advertising’s Leading Critic Lays Down the Law, Once and For All

As the advertising industry’s Dave Barry, Garfield has written the influential ad criticism column “AdReview” for Ad Age for 17 years and is cohost of NPR’s On the Media. His first book, aimed at advertising pros, is a brazenly funny take on the industry practices that Garfield loves to hate. “Most advertising is unnecessarily terrible,” he writes, proceeding to enumerate the reasons why: a misguided emphasis on rule breaking and originality; misuse of sex, celebrities, humor, special effects and profundity; lack of contact with consumers; and sheer bad taste and immorality. Garfield supports his claims with passionate attacks on specific ads. Calvin Klein turns out “thinly disguised kiddie porn,” while McDonald’s “we love to see you smile” campaign is “preposterously false.” The criticism, however, isn’t always consistent. Garfield occasionally knocks highly successful ads, e.g., CK’s famous Brooke Shields jean ads. Furthermore, he praises campaigns that violate his own prohibitions. Garfield’s apparent ego (he less-than-wittily compares himself to God and declares, “[W]ith well in excess of a thousand ads subjected to my pitiless scrutiny, I’ve really blown the call only eleven or twelve times”) can also wear thin. Oddly, the critic loosens his choke hold on the industry in the final chapter, ineffectually defending it against other critics and halfheartedly attempting to restore the pride of the very audience he has been so busy mocking. Despite the weak finish, though, Garfield offers a mostly humorous and hard-hitting book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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