A Contagion Affecting our Industry: ADC Board Member Nick Parish Spreads Ideas like the Plague

We are lucky to have an award-winning journalist and editor on board, and ADC Board Member Nick Parish helps run London-based Contagious in North America, directing and developing content for its quarterly publication as well as frequent special reports and web platforms. Find out how Nick crafts words into the world’s leading magazine on global marketing and original brand ideas.

ADC: Describe what you do for Contagious.

Nick Parish: I help run Contagious’ North American presence, which consists of interpreting and explaining all the most interesting things happening in the world of communications and technology to our constituents.

ADC: What did you do before Contagious, and how did you arrive here?

Nick: I’ve been writing and editing for a wide variety of publications for the last decade or so. I arrived at Contagious through the international cabal of people who write about advertising for a living. They smuggled me out of my last job like a grandmother smuggles cocktail shrimp from a buffet.

ADC: How has the marketing industry exceeded your expectations?

Nick: Exposure to creative and passionate misfits is a pretty fun aspect of the communications business. I’m not sure it’s matched anywhere else. In Hollywood or music or publishing you seem to get a lot of extreme talents but they’re all bracketed by extreme douchebags. You get your fair share of both of those in advertising, sure, but it seems like the overall ratio is more widely distributed and includes more friendly and interesting people.

Communications is also turning into broader and broader terrain, which is nice, because I get pretty antsy. The answer to the question “What is an ad?” has really expanded in the last 10 years.

ADC: Could you explain your journalistic and editorial experience—how does it differ from acting as the Editorial Director for Contagious?

Nick: I’ve worked at small, targeted startups and big mass-audience newspapers as well as trade publications. Contagious takes the best elements of niche and trade information and upgrades it, to make it hyper-relevant to people who are really busy but still need a competitive advantage.

I’d argue we have a completely unique editorial and consultative perspective, which is really hard these days. Lots of analysis feels very generic. We have a strong point of view.

Also, people never throw out a Contagious magazine. Which I think has to be worth something in a publishing landscape that’s being continuously keelhauled by market forces.

ADC: What’s the best story/article you’ve pitched?


Nick: I pitched an anonymous ad industry gossip column to Playboy a few years back, a la Spy’s famous Celia Brady columns on Hollywood. That would have been really fun. Probably better that it wasn’t accepted. But it could still exist! Or already does…

ADC: As you know, ADC’s mission this year is to recommit to our roots to the art and craft in advertising and design. When do you bring this philosophy back to Contagious, how does it represent itself the day-to-day work for agencies and creative today?


Nick: We place a lot of emphasis on the nuts-and-bolts of visual design and usability and poetics of well-made things. Sturgeon’s law tells us 90% of everything is crap, so we don’t bother with the garbage. Neither do real people.

ADC: How does the “emerging innovative technology and marketing,” which you focus on, provoke current “business intelligence?”

Nick: “Very carefully.”

ADC: Personally, being from Detroit, I really want to know what you mean by “any music that sounds like it could have come from Detroit?” This qualifier actually includes Kid Rock… thoughts?

Nick: Kid Rock sounds like he comes from Ohio to me. But I can see how that might be subjective.

ADC: Why do you like dystopian lit so much?

Nick: Maybe because it makes the dour present a little less traumatizing? An Argentine friend just gave me a copy of EL ETERNAUTA, a graphic novel from the ‘50s about a time traveler who returns from an apocalyptic future to warn the present. It’s a nasty little piece of political allegory about Latin America at the time. The author and his family were killed by the regime he subverted, though, so my thesis might not have applied so well to him.

ADC: Anything else that you would like to share with the ADC and Art + Advertising + Design community?

Nick: I don’t know! I wish I could leave the community with something interesting or inspiring. I guess I’m really excited to be inspired by you more than anything. Go make something cool, please.

Wanna stop the plague of bad ideas pervading the industry? Stay up-to-date on the newest trends of marketing and branding through Contagious on facebook, Twitter and YouTube! Reach out to Nick via email to learn more.