The Sound of Raging Designers

I just finished reading Peter Merholz’s rant against Ad Agencies on the Adaptive Path blog (Peter is AP’s President) and it’s as filled with rage and vitriol as any good rant should be. What’s most engaging, however, is the flood of replies and comments that were trigged by the post – many of them from other AP employees. If you are interested in the debate of User Experience Designers vs. Advertizing Agencies then I urge you to read the original post, the comments, and the many cross-linked posts in the comments. If you have only a passing interest, then the following summary is for you.

The Original Angry Post

Peter lit a fire by posting comments such as “Ad agencies, in particular, are soulless holes, the precepts of whose business runs wholly contrary to good user experience practice” and “…advertising, as it is widely practiced, is an inherently unethical and, frankly, poisonous endeavor that sees people as sheep to be manipulated…

If those weren’t enough for you, the rest of his post continues on with various other emotionally-charged generalizations, all making the same point: Ad Agencies are peddling a fake version of UX design and are hurting the industry.

The Replies

Although there are dozens upon dozens of well-thought-out replies, here are some of the highlights that you may want to skip to in the original post:

Comment #43: Henning (another AP employee) asks Peter some very appropriate questions about the motivation for his post

Comment #65: Mauro Cavelletti from R/GA called out Peter and invited him to coffee

Comment #67: Abby Covert has a great reply via a blog post that wraps up nicely: “Do I ultimately think that your whole post is nothing more than an Adaptive Path advertisement with a defamation angle targeting the Ad industry? Heck yes.

There are many, many more replies, but those are the ones that I found the most interesting in the debate.


VP HCM Products at NetSuite and Founder of TribeHR and Lewis Media. Waterloo Region Enthusiast and active volunteer.


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