• Farewell from Ad Nauseam
I started writing Ad Nauseam in 1994 for a small Toronto newspaper. My qualifications were minimal — a few years as an independent commercial artist and copywriter, followed by a stint at JWT where I set up their IT department and analysed tracking software.
Still, it’s not like there was a lot of competition. At the time, nobody figured the average reader cared about the advertising industry, and the only people writing about it were doing so in trade magazines. On the other hand, I’d heard too many people talking about the latest commercials, and how bad/good/stupid they were, to believe that laymen were truly apathetic about the subject. I thought there was a chance people might actually be interested in a public discussion about advertising — and not one based on advertising’s subversive influence on our lives. I wanted to be the devil’s advocate, so to speak, and for the first few years even wrote it under the name Blaise Meredith, the protagonist in Morris West’s book, The Devil’s Advocate.
I don’t know that any of my readers ever caught the reference.
In the beginning, Ad Nauseam was more of a review than anything else, looking at the quality of production and general appeal of various ads. Because I still had many contacts in the industry, I was also able to dig out background information about the making of the ads and the actors who appeared in them. As time passed, however, the column often took on a more satirical approach, more along the lines of my V8 Juice & Canadian Unity (one of the few articles from the time I still have a copy of). I also began taking a more critical approach to the actual effectiveness of the ads.
Since then, Ad Nauseam has appeared in different formats, moving on-line in 2000 with the Circa2000 Project magazine, and finally in its present form as a blog. During its history it has questioned the value of the bull dog spots for the introduction of Red Dog beer (since faded from the marketing scene), drummed up letters of support for Virginia Christine (the actress who played “Mrs. Olson” in the Folgers commercials) when her declining health began to take its toll, and condemned the devaluing of on-line advertising through means of the misguided Click Through Rate (a summary of which can be found here).
And it’s all been fun.
But times have changed. Advertising commentators are no longer the rare creatures they once were, and their qualifications are so far superior to mine that I now feel like a grade-schooler at a university debate club. Through Ad Nauseam I’ve come to know some of them, at least on-line, and feel honoured to have been able to take part in the conversation as much as I have.
But it’s time to move on. It’s getting harder to post because almost everything I want to say is already being said, and it’s being said by far more knowledgeable people. I’m also having to spend more time in my editing and teaching profession — the areas that actually provide me with an income, however meagre. As a result, Ad Nauseam is beginning to limp along, and I’d rather end it with dignity than have it languishing in cyberspace.
So thank you to all who have visited. This whole experience has been good to the last drop.