Op-Ed: Where’s the Comment Love?

By Kiran Aditham 

Dana Larson, chief content officer at San Francisco-based agency Extractable, has returned with another column, this time *gulp* tackling what is basically the most controversial/notorious aspect of this site, the comment thread. Larson, who has spent 20+ years in the biz, holding a wide range of positions including copywriter, CMO, content strategy director and ECD, asks a question that has been posed to us by many an agency staffer–whether they be in PR, creative or in senior exec level–over the years. We only wish her the best. Read on and chime in if you please.

Writing a post for AgencySpy is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit like splitting the lanes on the Bay Bridge—there’s always a chance that you’re going to find yourself in the comments equivalent of eating asphalt. (For those of you who don’t ride, the drawing of blood is involved here.) Sure, there are plenty of posts that get no comments at all, but when the comments start flying, they really get going and they’re usually not very kind.

In a review of 220 posts on AgencySpy over the last month, 25 posts had 10 comments or more. That’s a fairly engaged audience, but don’t confuse engaged readers with fans. Only two of these posts garnered predominately positive comments—the rest were mostly snarky, and some were downright mean. Here are a few select gems for you:


SpewInThis  type99 

• 25 days ago

Ugh. I think I just choked on my own vomit. Are you for real? I’m guessing yes, probably because you’re one of Justin’s bosses and not someone who actually had to work with him. If you did, you’d realize what an arrogant, overrated douche he is.


Chim-Chim  Spritle 

• 20 days ago

You’re right. If you work in advertising you should have zero moral compass and cling to the dogma that got you that Porsche. Keep believing that you can manipulate dumb Americans into buying whatever bullshit you’re selling the same way you always did because nothing’s changing.

In 5 years you will have no career.



• 11 days ago

Did you just accuse Sigma Beta Bogusky of being insensitive to women and people of other races who play video games? Preposterous! Us mountain honky bros love chicks and darkies.


And trust me, this isn’t even the worst of them (or best of them, depending on how you look at it). So what gets people commenting? I found that there are two breeds of posts that get people’s fingers flying on the keyboard—the “people on the move” post and the “commercial spot review” post. In the latter category, it was interesting to see how often the comments were more directed at the creative talent or agency that worked on the piece than it was about the creative itself. That said, the comments on the post “Dietzen Out at Energy BBDO” expressed pretty much united love for Jimmy Dietzen’s Wrigley’s Extra spot, which was a pleasant surprise.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were times when the comments digressed on AgencySpy into knockdown, drag-out, political fights. And I don’t mean political of the office variety, but more of the tea party vs. liberals variety. Seems like an odd venue for airing those views. Isn’t that what Daily Kos and Free Republic are for? I guess some people will force their politics on anyone, anywhere.


It Takes a Big Ego to Be Successful in Advertising

With two exceptions, the “people on the move”  posts I reviewed were gold mines of negative comments, although the comments are not always directed at the person on the move. Sure, some of the comments were focused around dislike for the subject at hand and personal beefs about stolen ideas, but just as often there were comments conveying general disdain for the agencies involved. Like the following:


no sir

• 8 days ago

nice guy, yes. but is there a bigger blow hard, digital industry buzz word throwing, clueless, idealess hack? No sir.



• 15 days ago

Oh good. Another wannabe “agency” can’t find its ass with a map, outclassed outmanned and outgunned by all those old-school traditional agencies they laugh at, and their response is to give a new title to someone who’s been running the place for two fucking years. holy shit!!! fan-fucking-tastic move! now watch shit happen!!



I imagine that in some cases, the digs and disses are earned, fair and square. But all of them? That’s hard to imagine. I’ve also noticed a pretty universal contempt for all things digital, as is evidenced in the examples below:


CokeZeroWhore  lubed up 

• 2 days ago

Because he knows that half (I’m being very generous) of all “digital” advertising is a complete scam? Go produce your little Vines video now. Or maybe do something that’s really viral? Clients love that – just make something really, really viral. Maybe you can get the production budget to $30,000. Like little children whining about their parents.


Brutish  Andanotherthing 

• 20 days ago

@Andanotherthing You’re an idiot or an account person. Oh wait, you might be on the digital side too.



In reading through all of these comments, it would be a fairly easy leap for one to think there’s a bunch of colossal egos behind all of this negativity…not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, that may be just what it takes to rise to the top in this industry. According to a joint study conducted by professors at IMD business school, Penn State and Erlanger-Nuremberg University, “narcissism and hunger for attention lead to innovation and daring decision-making.” Sounds like the ideal attributes for a successful ad exec to me. And if success could be measured by the breadth and depth of one’s comments on AgencySpy, then my money is on ExactDerp to go all the way!

Tell me, what do you think of all of the negative comments on AgencySpy, and other places such as YouTube, for that matter? Do you read them? Do they serve a purpose? Have at it.