I predicted that Bob Garfield’s Open Letter To John Wren would stir things up, and judging by the 70 comments, it sure has.
So should we care if ads are perceived by some as offensive or not? It’s the subject of my new Talent Zoo column. Here’s a snippet:
“It’s just an ad.” This one usually comes out of the mouths of people who’ll otherwise go to any lengths to defend bad work, particularly if it’s their own. In an industry where a gold trinket is a ticket to a pseudo-fame and not-so-pseudo fortune, plenty of people will jerk off over something they like, even though it’s “just an ad,” and treat it like the Hope Diamond.
Often, the defense of offensive ads is just as irrational and nonsensical as the protests of the offended people. And for the ad industry, that doesn’t help our cause much.
We ought to assume some responsibility for the messages and images we disseminate. The problem is, we are rarely forced to. We do what we do, then it’s off our desks. It gets produced, and then it’s out there. How often do we have to deal with the consequences?