Bob Garfield Ends 'Ad Age' Column. End of an Era for Critics?

Bob Garfield is ending his column at Advertising Age, suggesting the end of an era for critics.
Bob Garfield is ending his column at Advertising Age, suggesting the end of an era for critics.

For the past 25 years, Bob Garfield has praised and panned the best and worst commercials as the ad columnist for Advertising Age. But that run comes to an end next month, making Ad Age the latest venerable publication to lose its marquee critic.

Garfield, who also co-hosts On the Media for NPR, will publish his last installment of "Ad Review" on April 5. After that, he'll write a new column called "Listenomics," about the digital revolution in media, and will also branch off on his own with a consulting business.

Unlike, say, Todd McCarthy and David Rooney, who were recently dropped by Varietyas a cost-saving measure, Garfield is leaving of his own accord -- although, to hear him tell it, it's more a matter of picking his moment to face the inevitable. "I could have gone on writing [Ad Review] indefinitely," he says. "But with full-time critics being dropped left and right, of course, the chances of me being able to do so indefinitely as a full-time employee approached zero. That fact figured heavily in my thinking."

Abby Klaassen, who took over as editor of Ad Age in December when her predecessor, Jonah Bloom, left to become CEO of Breaking Media, says the departure of the trade magazine's best-known byline doesn't signal a retreat from criticism. "With all due respect to Bob and the fact that he's inimitable, does this mean Ad Age can never review another ad? No," she says. "I will say that after 25 years, it's not surprising Bob wanted to stretch himself beyond reviewing ads, and he's been talking about this 'Listenomics' idea for awhile. It's certainly an increasingly important idea and issue for our audience so I'm excited to see what he does with it for us."

Garfield says he'll have more to say about his reasons for calling it quits in his farewell column.