Call Guinness. Here’s the dumbest Web site design on Earth!

I know you’ve seen stupid Web site design before. But you’ve never seen anything this absurd.

Take a look at the site for the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. If you dare. I can’t even describe it. You have to see it for yourself.

What the blue freakin’ blazes were they thinking?

I challenge you … no … I DARE you to find a site that is less user friendly or more self-indulgent.

Okay, the pencil thingy is fun to play with. But c’mon. This is the main site for a major worldwide ad agency? Really?

If this is how they advertise their own agency, what can clients expect for their millions of dollars? And if this was their best idea for a Web site, what sort of ideas did they reject???

The boobs who designed this site couldn’t learn a thing from my article on killing Web site traffic. Maybe you could, though.

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14 Responses to “Call Guinness. Here’s the dumbest Web site design on Earth!”

  1. Arun on December 13th, 2007 11:04 am

    What else do you expect from an ad agency?

    They have to show their creativity to potential clients. The interface is quite intuitive once you start to use it. They don’t rely on web traffic to get new clients. Somebody who is going to find them through a web search cannot afford them. They completely rely on their work, self-advertisements and word of mouth for new clients.

  2. Brian Clark on December 13th, 2007 12:50 pm

    Completely retarded.

    I love the fact that these “creatives” look down their noses at direct response marketing. You know… efforts that actually *sell something* are terribly boring to them.

  3. Dominik Lenk on December 13th, 2007 1:01 pm

    I guess this is filled in the rant category;-)

    While I agree that a text-based version of the site would be nice… together with some more information on the company itself, i think that it is a pretty successful site: It shows clients that the agency is actually creative and can do something with their ideas. The agencies’ reputation works for them, which ‘allows’ them to ignore some basic usability rules.

    Users are sent on a quest—which really shouldn’t be the way to tackle things on the web. However, I still find myself admiring the site; something must have been done right.

    At the same time it is not representative: The first time I saw the site I though that this is a one-person-shop, and not a HUGE agency.
    Even though I agree with you to a certain extent, I think that your post is a little harsh…

  4. Dean Rieck on December 13th, 2007 1:23 pm

    I know an agency this size doesn’t even need a Web site. And I realize they want to show off a bit. But what exactly are they showing off? Other than offering people a way to kill time playing with the pencil, what does this design accomplish?

    Look at Ogilvy Interactive: They offer a white paper right on the front page. Look at J Walter Thompson: They provide easy access to samples. Look at Grey Advertising: They give you easy navigation to all the information they have.

  5. Tom on December 13th, 2007 1:37 pm

    Arun is right,
    i think while they are highlighting there freethinking you are missing the point of the site.
    although its sightly frustrating to navigate, its certainly different.
    If you haven’t already seen it check out mother London’s site:
    its flabberghastingly unhelpful.
    Its annoying/fun.

  6. Janice C Cartier on December 13th, 2007 2:35 pm

    Gulp. At the risk of being totally wrong about this, I am going to say they are selling leadership. Dimension. The design utilizes another dimension in technology and quality content delivery. It is interactive and yes at first a lot like playing with a Wi the first time. Maybe they are wanting to say to their very big bucks clients who see the market shares of traditional advertising delivery systems shrinking, we can take you into iphone/Wi- land without missing a beat( or a buck).
    You all know way more than me, but I LOVED playing with the pencil. They do offer a text guide on the lower right “Feeling Lost” to add a comfort level to those used to a more traditional and 2-d world. Pencil + apple says we are grounded and simple, signature says my name is behind it…. but the rest says, ” oh the places we can go….”
    I went over to the other sites Dean mentions to check on some tried and true masters too. All good… so it seems to me it falls into positioning. Just a thought. And actually pretty cool…but they are not direct marketing, no. They are selling a concept on a huge scale. And Brian, you’ve got the best brains that I have seen lately on that.
    All best,

  7. lawton chiles on December 13th, 2007 4:42 pm

    I really think that this plays into the fact the creativity sells- while a huge company like these guys happily takes the client’s check for the work- is it actually profitable- and if it is, could it be more profitable with a direct-response or benefit-laden approach?

    I think so.


  8. lawton chiles on December 13th, 2007 4:42 pm

    I mean that people believe that the more creative and funny you are, the more profits you will make.

    This is false.

  9. Ted Grigg on December 16th, 2007 5:49 pm

    For many clients, they are so bored with themselves and their advertising that they are looking for an agency that thinks out of the box. Notice that I said they were bored, not necessarily their customers.

    In fact, this web site sets out to demonstrate that they think differently. Their audience consists of clients that don’t have to see huge returns on their advertising next quarter — or even the next year or two.

    Such clients advertise to themselves and for themselves. Not their customers or prospects. It is different for the sake of difference. Not to make money on the advertising.

    They actually have convinced themselves that this type of advertising sells. But as a direct marketer, I find this approach does not maximize revenue or sell products efficiently.

    Creativity for creativity’s sake does not equate good advertising in my opinion. In fact, it gets in the way of the message.

    How often have you seen a “great” advertisement only to shake your head dumbfounded when someone asks you what the product was or what company ran the advertising. You had no idea who ran it or what it was for.

    This is creativity that attracts attention at any cost and sells by default.

    Actually, the site will attract many such clients who still have millions to waste on their advertising. So it works for the audience the agency is interested in.

    As H. Gordon Lewis (a premier direct marketing copywriter) wrote in a recent article I quoted on my blog some time back:
    “If you have a budget of half a million dollars, how much do you want to spend on selling something and how much do you spend to build an image? A lot of people use brand marketing as a crutch. My position is looking at the bottom line.”

    So is this an effective web site for the targeted audience? I think that it is. Will it attract the company that wants sales results first and creativity as a means of getting there? My guess is that it will not. The demonstrated style shows what this agency considers fun and important. And I don’t see that selling effectiveness takes a high priority for this team.

  10. Clive (redegg design) on January 5th, 2008 1:05 am

    Ouch! You just made my day!

  11. Clive (redegg design) on January 5th, 2008 1:06 am

    Omg I just realised that was meant to be for an advertising agency! I thought it was going to be for some poor client!

  12. LJ on January 6th, 2008 6:59 pm

    I’m with both Arun and Tom, along with those that said the site is not there to attract website traffic. I think the site is great and appeals to their target market quite well.

    Clearly an ad agency such as Leo Burnett would not create a website for small businesses and website surfers, but rather to showcase their portfolio in a creative and original manner for their target market. Maybe this should have been taken into account before the critique!

  13. sam on March 18th, 2009 4:27 pm

    atleast it is not boring you old fart

  14. Dean Rieck on March 18th, 2009 5:28 pm


    I might be a fart. But I’m not old. Let’s keep the insults accurate, shall we?

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