Paula Scher on Why Advertising Has Gotten Good Again


Somehow we missed this one, but that’s why we depend on things like Michael Surtees‘s DesignNotes to grab them. So we found by way of his site, an essay by Pentagramian and everyone’s favorite Bush snubber, Paula Scher, in Creativity magazine entitled, “Advertising Got Better.” It concerns just that, about Scher noticing that, following September 11th, ad agencies really seemed determined to step up their game, running better, stronger campaigns and with far more confident design work. It’s changed so much, she thinks, that it’s made her question why the graphic design community, those who don’t work in the ad business, haven’t really taken hold of this new situation. Here’s a bit:

I don’t exactly know why this has occurred. I know that graphic design students, for the first time in decades, are considering advertising agency jobs as viable. The talented design staffs of some web and interactive companies from the nineties that imploded, like MarchFirst, may have relocated at the better agencies. Also, some agencies have hired terrific graphic designers as creative directors, where formerly the creative directors would have come from the copy side of agency. My former design staffs, after leaving my employ, have traditionally gone into magazine design, book design, or worked at in-house art departments for entertainment media companies. In the past five years, several that have left have either freelanced for or taken jobs at advertising agencies. I can’t remember that happening in over thirty years.

Our guess, if you’ll allow us to chime in, is that the internet really, really took off at around the same time. The burst bubble was starting to heal and with all of these MySpaces and the Web 2.0-ery everywhere, it forced advertising to start using a shotgun instead of a rifle. When you have so many outlets to cover, you put the emphasis on covering them, not focusing so much on design by committee. Add to that almost a decade of clients who can’t keep up with the speed of a million new trends per day and you have a situation where things are free to be a little more interesting, even if, in the end, they’re still hocking goods.