Bad Ads Are Not Acceptable

Ironic or common sense? Consumers demand better advertising.

I am proud to announce that ADC has joined reddit, Adblock Plus and other notable organizations in supporting the Acceptable Ads Manifesto.

In case it has not come across your desk, the Acceptable Ads Manifesto is a plea to advertisers, their ad agencies, online ad networks and publishers to stop making bad advertising (that which is obnoxious, annoying and obtrusive in the online space). Specifically, the manifesto reads:

  1. Acceptable Ads are not annoying.
  2. Acceptable Ads do not disrupt or distort the page content we’re trying to read.
  3. Acceptable Ads are transparent with us about being an ad.
  4. Acceptable Ads are effective without shouting at us.
  5. Acceptable Ads are appropriate to the site that we are on.


Nothing in this list is unreasonable. It simply asks us to respect consumers and to talk to them in the same tone or way that we would talk to each other in person. As the only global award show and club participating in this group, I’d like to explain to you why we did this.

We, in the creative industries, spend a good deal of time awarding, discussing and flaunting the best work in the business. Each year all of the award shows bestow gold, silver and bronze trophies upon a small select sample of work. However, if we compare the number of award winners to the total output of creative, we are talking a small fraction of the total work that is produced in any given year.

ADC is extremely proud to honor and celebrate its winners each year, but it’s not that work which I’m interested in, nor that which wins in any other show. At least, not as it pertains to our participation in the Acceptable Ads Manifesto.

Taking a hard long look at the bad work is more important than the good work. I’m talking about the badly designed, ugly, boring, or loud advertising that we see during our everyday commute and which also might interrupt our online experiences or magazine. It’s very dangerous to assume that because creative awards are awarded each year that the quality level of the mass of work as a whole is increasing. It actually feels it’s going backwards and it’s something we must stop.

We must face the reality that a big chunk of the work created by the marketing machine of clients and agencies — is not all great. In any profession it’s hard to pump out high-quality work on a regular basis. Perhaps clients are not investing enough in design and advertising. Perhaps we need to improve the quality of output as a whole in the industry. Regardless of what is causing this, I think it’s time to stop and analyze the situation because it is a fact that most of the work the marketing industry is producing is so bad that things like the Acceptable Ads Manifesto have been born.

This manifesto presents an opportunity for change. If advertisers, their ad agencies, freelancers, online ad networks and publishers took the five guidelines listed above in the manifesto and applied them to their work as a filter, it would demand the creation of much better work. It wouldn’t allow for lazy approvals of work you know goes against any one of these five simple filters.

I invite you to introduce your clients to the Acceptable Ads Manifesto, as proof that consumers are demanding respect via better quality work. No focus groups are needed to confirm this. And if you are a client, take this as a sign that you should be more selective when it comes time to choose who will create your marketing campaigns. If anyone needs help finding a new agency, team or freelancer, I invite them to reach out to ADC for help, as we have one of the largest, most concentrated groups of global creative superpowers in our community. Investing more money in top talented creatives, designers and professionals in the visual communications industry will pay off.

ADC wholeheartedly supports this initiative, and will help spread the message across the global creative community. We applaud this movement for its simplicity, honesty and timing, and hope that you will join us in spreading the word, too.


Ignacio Oreamuno
ADC Executive Director