Thursday, 26 November 2009

A History of Ad Agency Websites: Module 1.0

Welcome to this introductory module entitled A Hitory of Ad Agency Websites. This course is designed to give an overview of the core theories, trends and motifs of this fascinating new area of study.

Critics may argue that the history of agency websites is simply the history of web design. However, even a cursory study of the subject reveals this simply not to be the case. Many agency websites are barely up-to-date, let alone cutting-edge. And it is here that academics have begun to thrive - within the ironic disparity between businesses which purport to be creative, dynamic and adept communicators, and their websites which are often clumsy, derivitive, and duller than an old nun's knees.

Ad agency websites fall roughly into 4 different categories. Crucially, these categories are not chronological or periodic. In some cases, certain creative elements (or motifs) have become so cliched and prevalent over time as to warrant their own category. Like here, our first example.

Category 1: Pens & Paper
Probably the most boring, obvious and overused creative idea in the entire history of agency webites, the pen/paper device is an attempt to illustrate HOW FUCKING CREATIVE PEOPLE WORK YEAH! short of setting fire to a tie and pissing on it. Early exponents of the pen/paper motif were AMV BBDO, whose old site featured an animated hand drawing things on post-it notes. Here, the pen or pencil represents a sort of " big ideas cock" with creativity spurting out the end. Leo Burnett also use a pen/spaffy handwriting motif to denote their creativity, whilst Iris are currently running some predictable hand-drawn-on-a-whiteboard animation to describe their advantages. Some cute, regional, and equally hackneyed examples of Pen & Paper mis-use can be seem here, here and here.

To be continued... [Next time - Category 2: Swirly Shit]


Sell! Sell! said...

I enjoyed that, very funny, looking forward to the rest.
I think our site comes under the quite embarrassing "hasn't been updated since 2006" category.
Changing that though, thankfully.

John said...

Thank you kindly.

I guess you'll just have to wait and see which category (if any) your's fits into.

(I like your blog by the way - not read it for a while though. Will make up for that immediately tho..)

John said...

MESSAGE TO SELF: Use either "though" or "tho". Not both. And not twice, either. Reads like cack.

Nice blog by the way, John.

Oh, cheers. Thanks.

Leon said...

Thanks for this mate. Very informative. I opened up all the links at once for a look see and freaked when I couldn't find the one that had started to talk to me! Eventually found it was Finch... couldn't shut the bugger up. As an ideas agency they don't put the cart before the horse, apparently, and I don't need to go around the houses. Brilliant. Now, I'll never be short of ideas again. Look forward to reading about Swirly Shit, can't wait.