To advertise, to serve

Yesterday evening one hundred and thirty people biked from our agency to a cinema to view in its unfiltered entirety our reel of work from 2016. An annual tradition.

There was this, for Russia:


And this, for Europe:


And a lot more besides that has yet to be released into the public domain.

The journey home gave me time for some reflection, and prompted this thought and suggestion.

Of course our role as advertisers is to sell our clients' products and help sustain profitable businesses.

I have no issue with that.

But perhaps we have another, not unconnected agenda too.

Now I personally cringe at the sight of brands exploiting real human suffering and division and indulging in empty virtue-signaling in the name of making themselves cool or salving the guilt-ridden egos of adfolk.

It does nothing in the world other than to demonstrate that there is absolutely no aspect of life and culture that advertising will not exploit. And how utterly detached so many of us are from the real lives of real people.

But that evening's viewing made me think that along the road to flogging stuff, we are also given (more often than we might think) a precious opportunity.

To illuminate the better side of ourselves.

Amidst the anxiety-inducing 24-7 rolling news cycle, the filter bubbles resounding to the sound of mutually uncomprehending rage, and the techno-info-entertainment-media complex's unending efforts to steal our attention with mindless pap... that feels like a small (let's not get carried away with ourselves) but welcome contribution in the world.

A brief but valuable respite.

A vote of confidence in those we really serve - ordinary people.

A reminder that perhaps you, we, me, they, us... don't suck.

And that we might actually be pretty awesome human beings after all.

The journey home was short.

And so, necessarily, is this thought.