The Wall Street Journal reports that staff pushback at Ogilvy was not strong enough to topple management’s decision to keep the U.S. Customs and Border Protection as a client.
Ogilvy’s CBP contract is valued at more than $12 million, and is expected to generate around $1 million in annual fees for the agency.
“Some of you feel strongly that we should stop working for CBP,” Ogilvy Chief Executive John Seifert said to employees in a memo explaining the decision. “While I do understand and appreciate this point of view, I have concluded that our work for CBP is genuinely intended to improve the quality of this government agency’s public services. And we should continue to do all we can to support this objective.”
“Our assignment focuses exclusively on hiring better and more diverse applicants across the CBP organization; it does not include any work related to CBP detention operations,” he wrote.
Maybe Ogilvy’s Staff Was Also Rejecting “The Work”
The assignment could prove interesting, from a purely advertising problem-solving POV. I mean, how do you make guarding the border appear to be an appealing job, especially when the stated goal is to broaden the organization’s reach and appeal?
Not like this, is the short answer.
This could be an ad for the Marines, the NRA, or a GOP Congressman. It relies on tired assumptions and in no way reveals anything new or interesting about the problems at the border, or how we as a nation intend to solve them.
The main appeal, according to the commercial, is the ability to ride around on ATVs while packing heat. The commercial makes a mockery of CPB’s real work, falsely projecting a Western mythical narrative on top of life-and-death current events.
To add to the reliance on tropes, the copy sadly goes on a bender too. “This isn’t just a job. It’s a calling. Because we’re protecting more than a line on a map. But a way of life. Ours.” The line starts soft and it gets worse from there. All low-paying jobs are a calling. How else do you get people to accept them?
It gets worse. The “more than a line on a map” crapstick, followed by the accent on the possessive—Ours—is verbal garbage. Lines on maps change routinely throughout history. It’s human nature that stays the same.
The Work Also Needs To Be Smarter, Braver, and Bolder
What kind of people do we, The People, want to help enforce our borders? It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’d like to recruit thousands of humanitarians who speak Spanish. Our best new agents might come from churches, non-profits, health care organizations, and universities.
But CPB isn’t on this page today. CPB and the people in advertising who work closely with them, are more than fine with the idea of a smarter, braver, and bolder police officer. In the abstract, I am also perfectly fine with smarter, braver, and bolder officers at the border. Actually, I’m for thousands of them, as long as they all are ready and willing to use their brains and their hearts to welcome tired and scared refugees and help them start their journey through our horribly complex and racist immigration system.
As for the actual policing work that these officers will do, let’s turn their full attention to the human traffickers, and all who currently profit from this tragedy. That’s investigative work and field work that isn’t simple nor easy to solve.