It is clear that something has changed since I began my career in advertising.
When I started my career, I think my job was what added most to my personality. Saying “I’m a creative executive” was as powerful as good cleavage or a very short mini.
Being creative was something that inspired others; that generated emotions.
Now, sometimes, I feel a bit embarrassed when I say I work in advertising.
I’ll tack on the phrase “yes, I sell pigs in a poke” to my position, somewhat ashamedly.
This doesn’t mean I don’t like what I do. It means I feel we have overestimated our profession. Too many of us have charged exorbitant rates so that others could charge exorbitant rates. We have played God, filmmakers, artists.
We could keep on doing it, but we are forgetting that Caesar, he who decides if what we do is right or wrong, is our audience.
For years we have kicked around the concept of “common people.” We have underestimated the masses’ understanding, good taste and the ability to defend themselves. We acted as if anything could be whitewashed; that anything could go unchallenged.
Well, it turns out the new media have brought democracy to this state of affairs and voice to a public that no longer remains silent.
Today we cannot control when, how and where our ad is going to be viewed. And even more important, we cannot control what will be next to it. A happy ad by Coca-Cola may share a Facebook wall with hunger in Somalia. Will this go unnoticed?
With each day that passes by, our chances to get away with it shrink. We can no longer turn a deaf ear to our products’ shortcomings, because consumers will expose them five minutes after watching our ads. We can no longer shrug off information about origin, production process, employees, brand values … We cannot—and we never should have shrugged it off.
We can no longer trust a brief blindly, without reservations. We can no longer throw out ideas simply because they are good ideas.
It is pointless to buy myself some organic eggs with one hand and help sell industrial eggs with the other.
What we do is important and the debate of whether it influences people’s lives is at this point a waste of time. Yes, our job does have an influence.
We should be creative enough to generate brave ideas that sell and are responsible at the same time.
From toothpaste to an NGO, whatever it is we are doing, let us not forget respect. Let us move people while respecting their intelligence. Let us be mindful.
by Carolina Comas
Creative Executive – gyro Madrid
Cross posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network