I suppose I should apologize for the long absence. It was a forced vacation, if you will. Not my bad.
To recap, the Adland commercial archives have not only collected the worlds largest super bowl commercials collection, 48 years, but also all the articles that were written over the past 23 years. This happens to include an article written 17 years ago, that congratulated BBDO Thailand for their silver win in the Asia Pacific Adfest, for a commercial called "A Dog's life". There are literally hundreds of copies of this ad on youtube, but I'm the one the lawyer bothered to contact the host of. Note that even the ad association of Thailand has the ad on their youtube channel. Fancy that.
The commercial is very Thai in the way that it tells a rather dramatic story of love, deception, heartbreak and then even a dog-suicide attempt. Except the dog's life is saved by Bridgestone tires. Product as hero!
Fast forward from 2002 when this ad ran, to 2019 when a Colorado lawyer demanded we take the ad down. citing the DMCA and claiming "It was a pitch film not meant for the public." Well, that's bullshit, I thought and requested that the lawyer explain to me what a US law has to do with a Thai ad hosted by a Swede on a German machine. Not to mention we're congratulating BBDO for the win, that is, reporting. A month passed without any reply.
A month later our server host, that is the one we were customers of, emailed this curt note:
Please remove the domain adland.tv from our network within 24 hours (September 20, 2019 at 2:45 PM EST). See the updated response from the complainant:
Now, moving a large site situated on several cloud servers requires more than a little finesse and preferably a lot of planning and most of all time. Not only did I now have to shop for a new host in a hurry, I had to cajole several terabytes to another place faster than this type of data takes to move. To say that I got really fed up is an understatement. I worked until five am, then shut it all down, notified people via email and a stand-in page on Adland directing readers who wanted to help to our Donately, Paypal, and Liberapay, and then I began calling lawyers. I thank every single one who donated to help cover these fees. We still need donations and those links still work.
Word spread, Bluebus Brazil, a website older than ours by a year and our older sibling in this online ad-game wrote about it. Resumé magazine in Sweden wrote about it. Reclaim the net headlined it: "World’s largest and oldest commercial archive Adland taken offline" The SF Egotist took note. Hell news even spread to sites like Oneangrygamer, Breitbart and Techdirt. David Burn of Adpulp took the time to get a long interview with me here: Åsk Wäppling’s Adland Torpedoed By “Nuisance DMCA”. But one of the first, if not the first, to notice the consequences of this rubbish DMCA takedown request was Ron Coleman, an expert on First Amendment and intellectual property rights lawyer who blogs at Likelihood of Confusion. And now you know who my lawyer is.
As I sought alternatives, people were ever helpful with their suggestions that I hand over 23 years of work to the Internet Archive, or spend my days uploading almost 100,000 ads to Youtube - because it was important to them that this was preserved just not important enough that I should be in some way compensated for this work. Let's just add it to the Google billionaires catalogue, sure.
With this imposed vacation, I had time to reflect on what Adland wanted to be and what it became. I received so many texts, emails, Linkedin messages and calls about what Adland meant to people over the years, it was overwhelming to learn how Adland had been a resource to so many, just as I had envisioned. What was Adland to you? I wanted to collect ads beyond the paid award winners, for the sake of education and preservation. Yes, it's of extreme interest to producers, strategists and creatives to see what has been done in categories and with brands in the past, but it's not only ad professionals or the actors in the ads who seek out the archives. It's people who can't get that jingle out of their head, and students who are looking at our shared modern history as reflected in the ads.
Advertising is always trendy. Not just in colours and fonts, but also in causes and casting. There are trends in doofus dad, hunkvertising, save the water, greenvertising, wokevertising or causevertising and LGBTQ angles on top of that. Hot right now is ethicswashing, do a good cause so people ignore the harm the company causes elsewhere. Advertising is a magician's sleight of hand.
The advertising industry itself follows these trends, calling for a more diverse industry, more women at the top, and now as everyone is ageing - shouting that the industry is as ageist as the ads we create.
What is funny is that almost twenty years ago, an advertising exec put up an excerpt of his book in our Adland forums, testing the waters for his rant about being aged out of advertising. There is nothing new under the sun. With an archive spanning decades, the patterns become apparent.
It may seem that advertising doesn't want to learn from the past, or educate the young adpups - beyond the glossy ads that win all of the awards that are saved in the annuals of Addy's, Effies, Andys, Clios, D&ADs, Cannes Lions, the Epicas, Adfests and the hundreds of other assorted awards - and those are just the big ones, to paraphrase Joanne Lipman.
I recognize that the ad industry is ephemeral, and has little interest in preserving their history, outside of paying for shiny trophies to decorate their client meeting rooms. But advertising is a part of culture. It doesn’t just effect people in our own industry.
In that Venn diagram overlap are other creative types in related industries. Content creators and musicians who are passionate about protecting their IP. Game designers, digital artists and content creators with their own channels on new platforms. Legal scholars looking at the effect of new technology on our collective IP rights.
And while right now the advertising industry seems more intent on riding culture’s coattails, there was a time not long ago when what we made became a part of culture. It is my hope we’ll get back to that.
But either way, advertising is a history worth preserving. I want to be the gal who hops in a truck to collect the archives from Northlitchs, and TMs—two agencies who recently closed after seventy and eighty-five years of operation. I want to preserve the Instagram stories that are blips on peoples screens, already forgotten, yet make up the majority of media spend now.
I want the still be the eye on the exciting and in some cases emerging global industry, instead of only the US-centric eye on all creative works. I want the local and regional creative voices to speak about their part of the industry. Adland is not an industry rag, it's a library.
I want to say more about underresourced planners in agencies.
Because sites like @adland were filling a gap that widened as agencies stopped investing in paid services for developing insight, relying instead on free sources, or whatever you can get from the press release. https://t.co/LH0IF2R0wz
— Farrah Bostic (@farrahbostic) November 9, 2019
By collecting the good, the bad and the ugly, and writing about these ads from a creative point of view - all of the writers here work as creatives or strategists in advertising - Adland has always cultivated a diversity that ad agencies have only recently given lip service to.
There are a handful of others like myself who want to keep these fleeting moments, recognising that they are part of our advertising’s shared history, if not history in general. As we rush headlong into 2020, we'll be exploring opportunities for partnerships and opportunities to make Adland grow.
Also, it really wouldn't be a Superbowl if Adland wasn't kvetching on Twitter about the ads, which we have done every year since 2007, now would it?
(The abrupt move left me with a lot of technical glitches and lost data that I am working to resolve, please be patient with the broken bits on a live site as I soldier on.)