‘Ad Agony’ inadvertantly teaches principles of good advertising with anti-advertising messages
Mar 2012 27

Toronto commuters woke up to find their favourite ‘Quaker’, ‘Selloff Vacations’ and ‘Boom 97.3’ ads had been hijacked and replaced. The new message? ‘Advertising is bad’. ‘War is Over’ it ain’t, but the group known as ‘Ad Agony’ seem to know the fundamentals of what makes a good ad. Oh, the delicious irony. In any case, it was a decent stunt. And hopefully it accomplished what they wanted. I mean, here I am writing about it, right?

The whole series of ads can be found on their website.


PROS: I thought the campaign had some very good things going for it. The executions were a) eye-catching, b) followed a single-minded brief, c) well-written and pithy, and d) had nice design and layout (hand-painted it seems, no less!).

CONS: Extra points for tactics, but the message while delivered in a compelling way, was basically what ‘Concerned Children’s Advertisers’ have been saying for years: Think for yourself. Seemed a bit weak given the argument and guerilla tactics. I think today’s digital landscape gives people a lot more channels to call bullshit on a particular company — and directly to the company. People are a lot more message savvy than this campaign gives them credit for and the digital age has caused companies to become a lot more transparent about their dealings and messages. Bottom line is that the consumer is actually pretty powerful already and I think a ‘protest’ has to go past these obvious messages. Besides, some corporations are way more evil than advertising…


I tried to find out who ‘Ad Agony’ is… alas, their website was registered using an anonymous registration on February 1oth. I respect that.

For their sake, I hope they remain anonymous. It would be depressing to hear that the people behind these ads are what I suspect they are — people who work in advertising (or more likely, students) who have suddenly grown a conscience. If so, couldn’t you just do some pro bono work? — You can change the world that way too, y’know.

Oh, and the logo could’ve been bigger.

PHOTOS: courtesy of BlogTo.com