Creative Briefs: A Site to Offend Everyone

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Madison Avenue has a new foe. He's a bare-chested, corpulent man in a too-tight swim-cap who haughtily turns up his chin at the ad community. This man is "The Editor," a mysterious industry dropout-turned-critic who mordantly airs his beefs about the ad business on, a site launched late last fall.

Cheekily reminiscent of humor mag and website The Onion, the Editor offers "ad critiques and blatantly fake news," poking fun at everyone from the junior writer who attempts to wow creative directors with his "edgy use of the word fuck," to the art director who "fills his office with toys to appear more creative." Even Bill Bernbach isn't spared. The site reveals some of the guru's "lesser-known axioms," like "Mark my words, one day people will quote me like I'm Jesus F. Christ himself."

It turns out that the brains behind the parody site is not just one `Editor,' but two - a couple of employed SoCal creatives who've adopted the fictional persona to keep their IDs a secret. They go by the pen names of Jay Thompson and Dixon Sanford. The two reveal they are both copywriters, and from the site's sub-par design, Creativity is wont to believe them. We also know that the pair hails from the West Coast - the 310, to be more precise. Santa Monica, or perhaps nearby Venice?

The mystery men won't say. "We wanted to have the freedom to do whatever," says Sanford. "We didn't want to pull any punches." The site's fans agree. "It's actually good that the Editor stays anonymous," believes Mikal Reich, CD at New York's Mad Dogs & Englishmen, and an Adweak fan. "It allows him to be more autonomous."

So Sanford and Thompson can get away with some fairly nasty barbs, many aimed at major agencies. One fake news item reads, "Grey Advertising just gives up: After 75 years of creating consistently unremarkable advertising, Grey Advertising has thrown in the towel." Another says, "BBDO shocked to learn L.A. office is still open."

Some creatives who have undergone an Adweak whipping actually get off on the abuse. The "Editor" poked fun at TBWA/Chiat/Day's recent "Make Them Your Own" karaoke campaign for Levi's, calling it derivative of Gap commercials and running the headline, "Hey, I've got an idea. Let's steal something." John Soto, the creative director behind the spots, says he has no hard feelings. "I don't think he got what we were trying to do with the Levi's thing, but that's fine. I think it's really funny and I like that there's somebody out there doing it. I think it's vital. In this industry, we take everything way too seriously anyway."

"There are so many egos involved," Thompson explains. "They walk around the agency like it's the next coming of Moses. They need to be taken down a notch. And when you can deflate them, it can be gratifying."

The site rips on industry rags as well. There's the obvious pun on Adweek in the site's name. And there's a big dis to Advertising Age's Bob Garfield. In his commentary praising TBWA's Levi's, says Garfield "did everything but offer blowjobs to the creative team responsible."

Thompson and Sanford readily admit that their parodies are part penance for their own involvement in the ad game. "We've been guilty of a lot of the stupidity," repents Sanford. "We've been at agencies for years, and we've seen, done and heard so many of these things."

Is there something else involved too, like making a buck? Sanford says the site is a not-for-profit effort, although one revenue stream does jump out at him. "Maybe people will pay us to not be on our site," he laughs.

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