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George Lois on the AdAge of Old

Prolific ad-man George Lois sat down with an AdAge reporter not too long ago, and shared his thoughts on Esquire, The New Yorker and AdAge. The trade publication shared Lois’ thoughts via a nine-minute video (which can be seen above), and was strikingly transparent in publishing one portion in which Lois describes AdAge as having been a “pain in the ass” in years gone-by.

We e-mailed Jonah Bloom, editor of AdAge, to ask how his publication is different today. At one point, Lois referred to the publication as “Advertising Old Age”, and called it an “establishment” paper. But today the tone is a combination of traditional coverage mixed with harsh editorial coverage (thanks to Bob Garfield, who’s blogging now) and occasional “scandal” coverage reminiscent of what you’d expect to see here on AgencySpy (remember Carat’s e-mail debacle?).

Check out what Bloom had to say of AdAge’s duality, after the jump.

And to see what Lois had to say about AdAge, fast-forward the video to 8:50 &#151 if you don’t have a full nine-minutes to spare.

Video source

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Jonah Bloom:

“I don’t really believe in this distinction between establishment and anti-establishment. I mean everyone we report on is in the business of helping corporations with products sell them to consumers, they’re hardly trying to bring down the capitalist system. If it helps them feel like they’re rebels because they blog or used an SMS code in their last campaign, that’s great – people in the business we cover should enjoy what they do, and I think a lot of us are enjoying some of the tools technology has provided in the last decade – but I think the notion of anti-establishment is just something cooked up by people who have business to gain by seeming to be an alternative to larger businesses. Fact is: We’re all in this marketing and media industry together, and right now it’s tough on everyone from the digital start-up, to the Mad Ave. agency trying to figure out whether it can justify 120 legacy offices around the world, to the multi-billion-dollar global corporation.

Just because Ad Age writes a lot about digital media and non-advertising disciplines like word-of-mouth or recommendation engines, I don’t see us as somehow anti-establishment, in fact these things are the things our core readers–brand marketers, some of whom are very much ‘establishment’–want to know about today. We also still write an awful lot about the TV networks and their evolution as a marketing tool in a digital age, and they’re presumably “the establishment,” in this imagined framework too. I doubt very much we criticized George Lois because the big agencies told us to. Ad Age has never done what it’s told by any of our constituencies. That’s just not how journalism works. Maybe we just didn’t agree with George Lois’ methods or statements.

Ad Age is an independent source of news and analysis and has survived for 79 years because it’s maintained its editorial integrity and desire to provide useful information for its audience. We’ll report the good, the bad and even–seeing as you mention the Carat thing–the downright ugly. We’ll report whatever we think our readers need to know. For example, right now, at the top of our list of target stories is what works or doesn’t work in terms of marketing tactics during a recession. But we’re not here to gloss over mistakes or cheerlead for the industry. We never have been, and we wouldn’t last for long if we did. I don’t really care whether we’re painted as establishment or anti-establishment–and that’s probably beyond my control–I just care that we’re serving our readers right across the spectrum of the media and marketing business.”

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