John Oliver Skewers Native Advertising...And Offers A Hilarious Solution

You have to see this! Once again, HBO's John Oliver has gone on a rant. This time he takes on native advertising. In this well-researched, well-cited 12-minute video (, Oliver examines the integrity of news and its infiltration by native advertising. He takes on Buzzfeed and Jonah Peretti, whose face he describes as "successful, appealing and yet, somehow, you want to punch it." He also cites the IAB study which found that less than half of people exposed to native advertising realized the material was advertising. And he skewers Time's CEO for referring to the editorial separation of church and state as "whatever that was." And, finally, he has a bit of fun with NYT Advertising EVP Meredith Levien who, at an IAB conference, said, "Good native advertising is not meant to be trickery. It's meant to be publishers sharing their story telling tools with the marketer." To which he says: "And that's not bullshit. It's re-purposed bovine waste." Seriously, if you take a moment, step back and listen to all the bullshit we are slinging about native advertising, you'd be on the floor laughing just as much as you will be if you watch this John Oliver video -- which ends with an absolutely brilliant twist that humorously flips the tables on the very practice of native advertising.

So what's the new way of winning new business? Three-martini lunches are a thing of the past. Pitches? So 1980s. Decks? So 1990s. Capabilities presentation? Yawn. How about writing an article that asks questions you have all the answers to and placing it on a site within the very industry you serve? Yeah -- content marketing, baby. Everyone's doing it. Like HeBSdigital, a New York City-based digital agency which serves the hospitality industry. Senior Marketing Manager Sara O'Brien penned a piece entitled “The Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Online Media Agency.” Apart from the fact that her agency's name has the questionably placed letters "BS" in the middle of its name, the article is filled with insightful questions every agency should have the answers to when pitching new business.

Usually when we hear about some creative person leaving an agency to start yet another "creative venture,” it's a snoozer. Now, I'm not saying the fact that JWT North America CCO Jeff Benjamin is leaving the agency to do just that isn't a snooze-fest. It is. But I like how he elaborates his use of the words "creative venture.” He tells Ad Age: "I feel like every time someone starts something, they don't want to call it an ad agency, but then it ends up being an ad agency. I think it would be silly for me to say it's not an agency, but I do think in order for a startup to succeed, it's gotta be something different." Yes, it does, indeed, need to be something different. At least to investors and prospects. To the rest of us, you'll still be an ad agency.

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  • Agencies, Don't Like That Buzzfeed Post About Your Client? You Can Get It Deleted

    In an audit of the 1,000 posts that Buzzfeed deleted from its site, three were deleted because advertisers complained. Yes, it's true. Don't like what someone writes about you? All you have to do is bitch a little and get it removed. 

    In 2013, Buzzfeed published a post about an Axe body spray ad that was, it seems, not very positive. The brand's agency at the time didn't like what they read, complained and it was removed. Also is 2013, the publication chided Microsoft about its Internet Explorer browser. According to Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, the post was deleted because its author "had worked on a Microsoft ad campaign, and BuzzFeed's chief revenue officer complained about the post to me."

    A third post, published in January 2014 that discussed what brands had planned on Twitter for the Super Bowl was pulled because it was critical of what Pepsi had planned and, oops, the brand's Twitter account was handled by Buzzfeed staff at the time. Of that decision, Smith said, "We'd never previously considered the case of an editor that would be writing about an ad that was produced by our creative team, but we decided it was inappropriate and deleted the post." Really?

    Remember when advertising and editorial where separate entities? Yeah, neither do I. We've all been pummeled so hard with native advertising bullshit over the past few years that it's practically become -- much like the banner before it -- invisible. Not to mention the over-the-top, incessant use of ridiculously sensationalistic clickbait headlines that achieved nothing but to quicken the tactic's invisibility.

  • Job-Seeking Ad Students Envision Ad Agencies As Ice Cream Flavors

    You know it's true. Ad agencies spend an inordinate amount of time positioning themselves in a never ending effort to separate themselves from the sea of sameness which, when you think about it, is really a pointless effort because all agencies do the same thing: Help brands sell stuff. You know it's true.

    But, what if ad agencies were to define themselves as ice cream flavors? Hey, it's probably better and more informative than all those overly wordy websites that, at the end of the day, all say the same thing: nothing at all.

    So two Miami Ad School New York students, Aditya Hariharan and Joshua Namdar, decided to help us all differentiate between agency sameness by, yes, envisioning ad agencies as ice cream flavors by taking into consideration some of the better known work each agency has done. They put it all up on a Tumblr aptly named Agency Scoops.

    So which agencies are what flavors? Ogilvy is Share A Scoop, McCann is Dumb Death by Chocolate, Leo Burnett is GR-R-Reat Lovin', BBDO is an M&M-themed Peanut Caramel Split and Wieden + Kennedy is Just Deserts with a Nike swoop holding a scoop of ice cream.

    On the back of each ice cream label are listings of each agency's clients and awards. The effort, of course, is a job seeking effort for the creators but also a humorous way to help creative students seeking summer internships to get a, ahem, taste, of different agencies.
  • The AICP Has Announced Its 2015 Next Awards Shortlist

    The AICP has announced the AICP Show & AICP Next Awards Shortlists. Winners will be revealed during AICP Week in June. Shortlisted pieces and credits may be viewed on the AICP Web site. Chairing the 2015 AICP Show is Kerstin Emhoff, president/co-founder of PRETTYBIRD. Judging Chair is Rob Reilly, global creative chairman of McCann Worldgroup.

    On the AICP Show Shortlist, the top five production companies mentioned are: Biscuit Filmworks, with 21; Smuggler and O Positive, with 16; Park Pictures, with 13; and MJZ, with 12 mentions. For agencies, the top five mentions included work from various offices of:  Wieden+Kennedy, with 25; BBDO with 17; R/GA and TBWA\Chiat\Day, with 12 apiece; and SS+K, with 11. On the client side, HBO GO led with 11 mentions, followed by Beats By Dre with nine; General Electric with eight; Nike with seven; and Adidas, Mars Chocolate North America, and Weight Watchers, each with six mentions.

    For the AICP Next Awards shortlist, on the production company side, Tool appeared seven times; R/GA five times; Chelsea Pictures, The Kitchen, and Smuggler each appeared three times. For agencies, the top five mentions included work from the various offices of:  Wieden+Kennedy, with 11 appearances; BBDO with 10; Leo Burnett, with six; R/GA and Young & Rubicam, each with five. For clients, the top five includes mentions of: Land Rover, with five; Heineken, with four; and Volvo North America, Jordan Brand and Google, with three each.

  • Agencies, The MTA Isn't Censoring Your Ads. It's Media Rep Is

    We often hear of ads being given the label of "banned" because they are too racy. This happens in all media including New York's MTA. The organization recently banned ads for Bravo's "Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce." Now the organization has banned an ad for Dumbo Moving. And it's actually a favor to Dumbo Moving, as the ad looks like a contraception ad instead of a moving company ad.

    That commentary aside, it wasn't actually the MTA that banned the ad. The organization's advertising partner, Outfront Media -- which sells ads for the MTA -- rejected the ad on behalf of the MTA. And the MTA didn't even know the ad was banned until it saw a press release from the moving company getting all pissy about the ban.

    As it turns out, Outfront Media does this every once in a while for the MTA, allowing the organization to sidestep controversy. What a swell group, huh?
  • Agency Behind ANZAC Woolworth's Campaign Deactivates Twitter Account Then Reverses Decision

    Last week, Australian agency Carrspace launched a social media campaign that urged people to upload images of war veterans that would then have "Lest We Forget ANZAC 1915-2015. Fresh In Our Memories Woolworths." ANZAC Day occurs on April 25 and is a national day of remembrance for both Australian and New Zealand commemorating those who served in wars together from both countries. Woolworth's is a food store. 

    Things quickly got out of hand with people uploading images of Hitler, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and others. There was even a Hitler Downfall video made. According to the Protection of Word ANZAC Act of 1920, any company wishing to use the word in marketing must obtain permission from the Department of Veteran Affairs. Woolworth's did not seek permission.

    No one took kindly to Woolworth's leveraging such a cherished day for their own marketing gain. All hell broke loose. While the agency claims it didn't take down its Web site (it claims it went down due to increased traffic), the agency did close down its Twitter account. 

    Explaining the move, Carrspace Director Madeleine Preece said: “We respect the court of public opinion about our work, we value feedback, but we don’t respect trolls or abusive and offensive language being used towards our staff. We never removed our website. We deactivated the Twitter account due to trolling and vulgar and abusive tweets that were affecting the team.” The Twitter page is now back.

    The agency, of course, never meant to get itself or its client, Woolworth's, into this position. A statement on the Woolworth's Facebook page read, in part: “We regret that our branding on the picture generator has caused offense, this was clearly never our intention.” 

    Then again, the agency should have done what we've all been told since childhood. Think before you speak/act.
  • Former Richards Group, Backer & Spielvogel, Publicis Creative Joins Moroch Partners

    Kevin Foreman, whose creative career spans 25 years at shops such as Backer Spielvogel Bates/NY, The Richards Group, Publicis, Tribal DDB, Rapp Worldwide and SHOP.COM, will join Moroch Partners as the agency's Digital Creative Director. Which, when you think about it is pretty awesome because Foreman has to be at least 47 so props to the agency for going against the grain and entrusting an "old guy" with your digital creative.

    Of selecting Foreman for the position, Moroch Partners ECD Kevin Sutton said, “Having Kevin on board will ensure the agency remains ahead of industry shifts and will continue to develop the most significant campaigns we can across multiple consumer-centric platforms. With consumers’ increasing demand for real-time information and brand engagement, digital has become one of the most critical components of our clients’ marketing strategies.”

    Foreman seems pretty happy with the new gig saying, “Moroch was built on the belief that true 360 integration is the key to driving shifts in consumer preferences and behaviors to deliver more immediate, sustainable and significant client results. The leap was intuitive as I share the same belief and passion. I’m excited to dive in and get started.”

  • The 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame Will be Held at JWT

    The New York American Marketing Association will hold its 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame event May 21 from 6 PM to 9 PM at JWT, 466 Lexington Ave., New York City.

    This year, NYAMA will honor four "marketing innovators" who have made outstanding contributions to the field of marketing. The four honorees are David Aaker, vice chairman, Prophet and professor emeritus, BerkeleyHaas School of Business, UC Berkeley; Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard; Nike Brand President Trevor Edwards, and Ogilvy & Mather Chairman Emeritus Shelly Lazarus.

    Adding the requisite social media aspect into the event, anyone can win 5 free tickets, otherwise priced at $95 each, by posting/tweeting/sharing with the hashtag #MarketingHoF! that you're attending which you have to do after you buy your own ticket which, oddly, means those 5 free tickets are for your co-workers.
  • Fallon Bolsters Executive Team With New Chief Strategy Officer

    Fallon is on a roll! Fallon has announced an addition to its executive management team. Anette Lillegard, formerly with IMF Health, has joined the agency as Chief Strategy Officer. The news follows several recent account wins for Fallon, a Super Bowl ad, a public thank you from client Arby’s for its “Arby’s: We Have the Meats” campaign and getting named Comeback Agency of the Year by Advertising Age.

    Of the hire, Fallon CEO Mike Buchner said, “We made the conscious decision to look at nontraditional candidates for our Chief Strategy Officer hire. With a desire to expand our current strategic offering into areas such as analytics and consulting, I’m very pleased that we have found someone with a wealth of business strategy experience and an impressive track record of success like Anette."

    As Chief Strategy Officer, Lillegard will be charged with leading strategy within the organization including oversight of Account Planning, Connection Planning, Research, Analytics and Consulting. I'm told she will also have a hand in shaping the future of the company as a member of the Fallon executive management team. 

    Of joining Fallon, Lillegard said, “I am honored to join Fallon and be a catalyst for diversifying our thinking and elevating our discipline to create on–point, bespoken strategy for the brands we all care about.”

    Remember when "bespoke" was just a fashion term used to describe a specialty clothing maker in England?
  • Fallon Officially Scoops Up The Big Ten Network

    The Big Ten Network has announced it officially named Fallon its agency of record following the agency’s development of a fall national campaign focusing on BTN’s college sports focus and ever-expanding reach.

    Of Fallon's work and selecting the agency as AOR, BTN VP of Marketing Erin Harvego said, “The fall college sports campaign was a huge success for the Big Ten Network. We look forward to continuing the momentum with dynamic, original creative that showcases what the Big Ten and college sports are all about. What we enjoy most about working with Fallon is the agency’s ability to present original ideas, and I think they’ve found fun and exciting ways to share our vision with our viewers.”

    Of hooking up with BTN, Fallon Creative Director Josh Combs said, “We like to work with ambitious brands and BTN is among the most motivated with which we’ve worked. The network is determined to become the best network in college sports and our job at Fallon is to help it turn those dreams into a reality.”


  • R/GA Start-Up Accelerator Program Aims to Make Dodger Stadium Experience Better For Fans

    In partnership with the Dodgers, R/GA has launched Dodger Accelerator, a program that aims to guide 10 start-up companies who come up with ideas to better the stadium experience for fans.

    The Dodgers and R/GA will invest $20,000 into each of the 10 start-up ventures in exchange for a 6% stake in the companies. Free Playa Vista office space and mentors including Dodgers owners Mark Walter, Peter Guber and Magic Johnson will also be provided.

    The effort hopes to identify solutions that will enhance stadium operations such as food service efficiencies, second screen experiences for home viewers and stadium energy savings solutions.
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