George Lois Says Ad Biz Ruined by Science, “The Photoshop”


Fast Company has a delightful rant by legendary adman and art director George Lois which starts as a dismissive review of “Mad Men” (“There’s nothing wrong with ‘Mad Men’ if it’s supposedly a series on a bunch of phonies screwing their secretaries and having three-martini lunches and not giving a shit…”), but digresses into What’s Wrong With the Ad Biz (with a brief stop, of course, for How Brilliant George Lois Is). For one thing, back in the day advertising attracted “edgy, exciting entrepreneurial kind of guys,” but today people are taught that “advertising is a science. You can’t test great advertising. You can only test the mediocre.” He also blames “the Photoshop” for “destroying creativity… Everybody thinks they’re a designer. I go in and talk at SVA… [I say] ‘What are you designing?’ ‘I don’t know, I’m just playing around.’ ‘What’s the idea?’ ‘I’m not sure.’ Then what the fuck are you looking at? Look at the mirror and talk to yourself and come up with an idea.” Lois also says if he went back to the big agencies, “either I or they would be dead in a week.”