And your point is?

In any ad agency, a friend of mine once said, the best work done in any given week is the farewell card the creatives cobble together, for free in their spare time, for whoever is leaving that Friday to go work...

In any ad agency, a friend of mine once said, the best work done in any given week is the farewell card the creatives cobble together, for free in their spare time, for whoever is leaving that Friday to go work somewhere else.

The goodbye card is almost inevitably (a) surprising (b) witty (c) moving (d) memorable and most importantly (e) so perfectly on target, so sublimely on strategy that everyone in the office who sees it knows exactly what quirks and foibles they have always sensed lurking in the recipient’s psyche are being outed and sent up by the creators of the card.

It is, consequently, a cherished and thrilling piece of communication.

The reasons for this phenomenon, my friend said, are:

* The creators’ knowledge of their subject (a.k.a. The Product) is clear, thorough and all encompassing.

* Their appreciation of the opinions and sensibilities of their fellow staffers in the agency (i.e.: The Target Audience) is also highly accurate.

* Their motivation is personal and professional self-aggrandizement through a startling demonstration of artistic and perceptual brilliance before their peers and superiors.

* They didn’t have to get account people’s or client’s approval to produce the damn thing.

David Ogilvy said the more you tell, the more you sell.

Those of you who have followed this column dutifully, even slavishly (Hi Mom!), know that every few years I try to put a plug in for the idea that people notice, read, remember and act upon information that interests them, and every so often, that information comes in the form of an advertisement.

And yet. And yet. Scanning the great swath of print advertising continually to find something to write about every two weeks, we become suspicious that the minds that produced the ads felt we simply could not be interested in the product the ads claim to promote.

Either that, or the minds themselves were so disinterested that they felt it beneath contempt to dabble in the dissemination of information, fact and persuasive argument, but rather chose to say something we’d find cool or clever or even just mildly agreeable, like please walk on the grass.

Templeton Investments is running a four-colour newspaper ad that shows a pair of women’s arms waving out a car window. The headline – and there is no body copy – reads, The perfect balance is rarely discovered working overtime. Hello?

Someone at AT&T Canada figures 30-grand is a fair price to pay each time they tell us, in a full-page four-colour ad, that they have Communications solutions available in all sizes. Bet you had absolutely no idea, right?

A front-page ad in the National Post last week consisted of a BMW convertible along with the line, Summer comes but once a year. News to you?

Okay, my New Yorker just arrived. Harman Kardon advises us that, should we wish, for some reason, to stop the world, we should just press Play. There’s a fuzzy photo of a dazed woman in a reclining chair and a little inset shot of a tuner that’s an inch and a half long.

No less a powerhouse than Saks Fifth Avenue shows us a rather staged looking blond ogling a shoe. A line says deciding to give into just one little vice over the power line that reads go ahead. Live a little. Anyone out there who disagrees? Finally, a sentiment every focus group in America can unequivocally endorse! Same people who brought you Shopping is good.

And so it goes. Audi advises you to Exit the ordinary. and VISA team up to tell you to Be whoever you want to be. The perpetrators of the Alitalia campaign we’ve already damned all to hell show us three babes toasting glasses of red wine with one of those greaseballs who work the piazza shilling for the leather factory, under the headline Let’s fire our therapist.

But there’s something odd going on. When you flip to the back of the New Yorker, past the full-page corporate spreads, the tiny ads where people actually make a living selling stuff directly to other people are packed with copy. Facts, details, persuasion, information! These people are so uncool they probably don’t even have an agency do their stuff.

Barry Base creates advertising campaigns for a living. He creates this column for fun, and to test the unproven theory that clients who find the latter amusing may also find the former to their liking. Barry can be reached at the Toronto office of Barry Base & Partners, (416) 924-5533; fax (416) 960-5255.