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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