Self-hating ad pros: Here’s your way out

Posted by Rob Walker on April 18, 2008
Posted Under: Anti

Apply for the Anti-Advertising Agency Foundation of Freedom Award: All you have to do to qualify for consideration is be a professional marketing willing to marketing pro who has quit your job. This initiative:

aims to respond to the increasing commercialization of public space, human relationships, journalism and art by decreasing the number of individuals working in industries that directly support these goals. “Getting these talented people out of advertising and working on real problems is so exciting!” states Steve Lambert, CEO of the AAA.

Lambert and AAAFFF Executive Director Anne Elizabeth Moore have put up the initial seed money for the grant — I gather it’s currently at $500 — and encourage further donations here.

Application forms for the grant (“Please briefly describe your sleaziest campaign,” etc.) are here, and worth downloading.

The vast numbers of ad industry creatives who regularly express hatred toward their own jobs is expected to bring in thousands of submissions. “So many ad industry types hate what they do. I wish we could help them all,” Moore states.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

“All you have to do is be a professional marketing willing to quit your job if you win.”

Actually, you have to have *already* quit your job to win. But not to worry, once you quit you get to network with the other applicants who have recently left the industry and share tips on becoming novelists and independent filmmakers (for example).

Written By Steve Lambert on April 18th, 2008 @ 8:56 am

Sorry about that. Fixed (I think — did I get it right?).

Written By Rob Walker on April 18th, 2008 @ 9:25 am

Yup. See, we’re not gonna hand over a giant prize check to people who make promises. We’re handing over a giant prize check to people who deliver!

Written By Steve Lambert on April 18th, 2008 @ 9:55 am

Completed applications *must* be postmarked September 1st, and we do need to be BCC:ed on a letter of resignation.

We’re trying to give people a fair amount of advance notice, because the jury looks quite favorably on pranks and stunts pulled as you leave your current position. Stuff like that takes awhile to plan and document.

Written By anne elizabeth moore on April 18th, 2008 @ 10:22 am

I’m in advertising and I don’t hate my job. In fact, most days I really like it. Of course I have been asked to work on things that don’t thrill me – casinos and pay-day-loan companies – to name two. I could have quit when those jobs came through our shop, but I didn’t. I did voice my objection to these clients. We still do work for the casino, the pay-day-loan client was dropped. The good is outweighing the bad – so far.

Question for Steve Lambert: name a job, a real job where one can make a living wage, that doesn’t have moral dilemmas that have to be dealt with daily? You can’t, Steve.

Another point: the AAAFFF expresses concern over the commercialization of art, public space, etc. I’m not sure it’s advertisings fault. Shouldn’t the blame lie with those who are profiting from the money that that commercialization is generating?

Written By Allen Weaver on April 18th, 2008 @ 11:16 am


It may be too late for you. I think you are in too deep at this point. I’d encourage you to participate by donating.

In regards to your question I’ll say this; you’ll never find that perfect job until you quit the one you have. Life’s too short to settle.

Regarding your last point. I’m pretty sure that’s advertising’s fault. Advertising and marketing and all public relations to be completely fair. But I’ll lump in the CEOs, strategists, and others that hire them as well. Why are you working that job again?

Applications are due September 1st.

Written By Steve Lambert on April 18th, 2008 @ 1:26 pm


Thanks so much for considering our offer! In addition to my partner’s previously mentioned, and excellent point as re: donating to our worthy cause, I’d also urge you to consider passing this offer along to the enemies and adversaries you’ve likely accrued within your profession. Perhaps they will take the opportunity to leave the industry, and you can move a notch closer to total advertising domination. Or whatever your desires dictate.

Who knows? We may end up creating a “win-win”!

Written By anne elizabeth moore on April 18th, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

Steve and Anne Elizabeth —

Allen seemed pretty thoughtful and respectful. He asked his questions without demeaning your cause. I’m not sure he deserved the condescension.

Written By Irene on April 19th, 2008 @ 11:36 am

I just want to step in here for a second and say:

I really go out of my way to keep this site free of comment bickering, with the basic rule that people are allowed to attack me, but not each other.

And it’s with that in mind that I’ve let all these comments through, and I hope I’m not making a mistake. I think there’s a lot of humor in what AAA is doing here, even if they do have an actual point to make. (I’ll note in passing that their writeup says something about marketers being some of the smartest and most talented and creative people around, etc.)

I’m just not reading anything mean or personal or condescending — maybe a little smart alecky and provocative — but marketers, in my experience, are pretty comfortable with that kind of thing.

I guess I really can’t speak for anybody on either side of this, but I want to make clear my own view, which is that this is a reasonable critique to make (and to take or leave, of course), but also that it is simply funny.

I sure hope I don’t end up losing or alienating readers over it, from either side of the question.

Written By Rob Walker on April 19th, 2008 @ 4:48 pm


My feelings aren’t hurt. And I think maybe I was taking the AAA a tad too seriously. Although, I do think they are trying to make a point, I just think my point is better. (Just joking).

Written By Allen Weaver on April 19th, 2008 @ 5:31 pm