You can see by the poll to the right that about two thirds of people who read this blog ‘don’t like’ Campaign magazine.
I’d just like to make it clear that I have absolutely no axe to grind with Campaign. If anything, they’ve been rather nice to me over the years. For what it’s worth, I’ve been a Face To Watch, and Daryl and I were featured a few times during the launch of Lunar. In addition, this blog has often been used for ‘Best of the Blogs’ and I was told by one of their journalists that their editor used to come in and ask why they weren’t covering the issues that I was. The Campaign journalists that I have met have been very pleasant and any problems I have with the magazine are in no way personal.
But two thirds of you don’t like the organ, and neither, to be honest, do I.
I did go into some of the reasons when I was a little critical of their Creative Circle award last week, but perhaps I could give it a closer analysis.
Campaign has an easy run for two reasons: it has no competition and it’s ‘only a trade mag’. I think that has made it complacent. It has changed very little over the years and still seems to consist of the reprinting of press releases, Private View, The Diary, The league tables (my Dad used to write for Campaign and came up with the idea for doing those, by the way), the letters, various columnists, a bit of analysis and the odd feature.
Although I’m certainly not saying that it needs to reinvent itself every five minutes, the above sections are generally poor. Here is an industry whose work shifts the opinion and perspective of millions on a daily basis, whose work is as public as it is possible to be, and yet we’ll still get very little in the way of investigation, campaigning or, what I can only describe as a ‘scoop’.
This is supposed to be journalism, in all its forms. Why so toothless? It’s about as spicy as a slice of Kingsmill dipped in milk. The Diary is full of the kind of plop that Take A Break would be ashamed to run. So someone who works in advertising likes shoes? Who gives a fuck? Someone in an agency turned up to the wrong address for a pitch? Big shit. I know it’s supposed to be a bit of fun, but with that in mind, it’s remarkably dull. How about something with a bit more edge?
OK, Campaign, here’s a little secret you may not be aware of: almost all agencies are petrified of you. They whinge about how you have taken against them and shit their pants that you might have got wind of some semi-innocuous email. So why not step up to that position and give things a bit of bite? If something’s a rip-off call it a rip-off. If someone does a dull Private View do not let them do it again. If it’s been a shit year, say so.
Two thirds of people don’t like a magazine that is all about what they do for a living. Surely with better writers and a punchier remit, you could become a magazine that people love. Why can’t you be as funny as The Sun’s ‘News In Briefs’ or as forthright as Private Eye’s Ad Nauseam? How about a cartoon that offers a pithy commentary on what’s happening in the world of advertising? Accept anonymous contributions? Bring back ‘I’m Only A Punter But…’
Here are some starter articles:
The big digital cock-waving exercise of three years ago has died right down. Why? And why is digital still the ginger stepchild that gets the least attention and is the least glamorous field of advertising this side of DM?
Why can’t Brits write comedy? The funniest ads each year are American. UK ‘funny’ ads are about as amusing as cot death. Why?
Find an account move that is all about backhanders and favours for mates. Take a stand against big corporations making agencies waste 50k on a pitch they will never win.
Reprint this entire post and ask for comments.
I dunno. I just do this part time. You guys do it for a living.
Surely you want your magazine to be liked and admired by most of your readership.
You could go so much further.
Why not give it a try?
PS: I got several comments and emails suggesting that I was brave for saying something negative about Campaign. Utter bollocks. I’m right off their radar.