Connecting passion to profession.
One of the most annoying questions I’ve been asked since I decided to major in advertising has been “why?” Sometimes it comes from a genuine curiosity about the profession, but other times it’s followed by some comment about manipulation, Mad Men, or something about privacy and how “they’re always listening to you.”
Now when you look at the history of advertising, you could easily draw the conclusions of it being a shady business that’s only focused on results and $$$. But I see it differently.
Of course, I’ve had my experiences with creating campaigns and strategies around selling things to consumers or fostering engagements. You can see that for yourself on my LinkedIn or my resume, but I’ll also have you know I see an opportunity to make a difference. Last semester I was worked with the NC Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch, and we created a campaign that focused on e-cigarette issues to empower college-aged females and give them the tools they needed to quit vaping.
Now that doesn’t sound like a soul-sucking job to me.
This is where I find my passion in this industry because I believe there is power in advertisements. Look at the impact Nike has had on the lives of the public, not just as consumers but as people. Or P&G and their campaigns for Moms. They elicit deep emotion and call for humanity to care just a little bit more about being better.
And ad campaigns that do this don’t have to be confined to PSAs or social marketing. Consumer brands are into social justice, too.
There are four campaigns that I feel really encompass the spirit of justice when it comes to this crazy world of advertising, and they each comment on a different issue in a unique way.
Sandy Hook Promise “Back-To-School Essentials” (BBDO)
Sandy Hook Promise issues a disclaimer on their YouTube video expressing that it contains graphic content related to school shootings that may be upsetting to some viewers. But this ad is emotional, heartbreaking, and powerful. The visceral reaction you have to it is intentional. How can you watch this and not wish to act for change?
Courageous Conversation “Not a Gun” (Goodby Silverstein & Partners)
To inspire meaningful change, this new campaign re-labels items as ‘Not A Gun’ to shed light on the fact that black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed by the police. Inspired by true events, the film highlights the disturbing issue of bias against people of color in situations where firearms are presumed to be present.
Frida Mom “Oscars Ad Rejected” (Frida Mom)
This ad was rejected by ABC & the Oscars from airing during this year’s award show. The categories that can get you banned from advertising are “violent or political”, “religious or lewd”, or if the ad displays “feminine hygiene and hemorrhoid relief”. This video does none of that. This ad from Frida Mom highlights the very real experience of postpartum life for women.
Airbnb “We Accept” (Airbnb)
Seen in the featured image of this post, and one of my favorite social issue ads, Airbnb did something bold for their 2017 Super Bowl spot. The travel company responded to Donald Trump’s executive order to close America’s borders to refugees and citizens in seven Muslim countries.
You can see the impact that each of these ads has and how they convey the need for justice. This is the work I want to be doing. The work that means something and the work that can make a difference. This is why I want to go into advertising and how I connect my passion with my desired profession.
For the songs-of-choice for this post, I chose to include my “Keep Moving Forward” playlist. It’s a random mix of songs and genres, but when speaking about social justice and the future, it’s this mismatched soundtrack that comes to mind.