Award winning Creative Director on how to avoid the shackles of mediocre advertising.
So what do you do for a living?”
This sometimes doesn’t go too well. Reply saying “I’m in advertising,” and you risk getting “Where do you keep your pitchfork?” as further conversation.
“I’m just the messenger” doesn’t cut it. And sometimes rightly so. Advertising has a bad rep: buy, buy, buy, profit, profit, profit, commerce, capital, toothpaste, washing detergent, car, Afridi’s skin whitening, tea, tea, DRINK MORE TEA DAMMIT! It is after all the visible face of business, the thing that interrupts your cricket game and the salesman ringing at your door. And the quality of the message gets worse every year. Who is going to respect it?
Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD, put it well: “Does advertising continue producing an increasingly inferior product for diminishing levels of client fee; or does it lead the charge towards more sustainable and responsible business models and demonstrate that marketing communication can be a powerful force for good?”
Advertising is insanely powerful – people who read this magazine know this. Even with something mediocre and annoying to say, you have the strength to move a mountain of biscuits from a supermarket shelf.
Business is not blind to this fact, and neither is it deaf to the hatred generated towards businesses that pursue profit without a concern for much more. And so the visible shift in paradigm in which more and more businesses are seeking a cleaner reputation to build a more loyal fan base. A reputation that speaks of living up to the responsibility of wielding the power of advertising – not just to build a bank account but to build better lives for humanity.
A bland, hidden or irrelevant CSR campaign for the sake of it is no longer enough: one notices that brands are becoming more and more relevant to causes, even going to the lengths of engineering or re-engineering products to solve problems. We have two good examples in Pakistan: Pepsi’s ‘Liter of Light’ and Moltyfoam’s ‘The World’s First Billbed’.
Advertising leaders around the world recognise this – often choosing to celebrate and reward work that set out with this goal of being a force for good; Cannes jury presidents went so far as to mention this in their speeches. “We are looking for work that does more than just sell the product” was something you heard plenty.
That the art of advertising has done wonders for non-profit causes is well known (yet curiously ignored) – from teaching people about condoms to protecting wildlife. What I would like to focus on is when advertising does well even while selling products.
Here are some examples which demonstrate what I refer to as the Trinity of Goodvertising: building brand value, doing good for humanity and communicating in an interesting and compelling manner.