Are we the bad guys?

You wouldn’t think so would you? All we do (Well i don’t do it yet but i will from july onwards) is create ads. That’s all i’ve want to really do. Ever since i saw this

But (and i may be late to this) but i’ve started seeing more and more movements and initiatives like this or this or this one

Which leads me to think this…

I don’t think we are at least. 

At S.C.A. we’re incredibly lucky with the access we get to the industry, more than I’d imagine any other course does. Being in London makes it easier but still. The agencies we’ve been to are all full of incredibly nice people. This is an industry where book crits are a thing. Where people are openly giving up their time and knowledge to help improve student work. (Shoutout to all the teams we’ve seen on crits! Thank you if you’re reading this!)

So we can’t be the bad guys right? Unless I missed something? 

So let’s look at some of the reasoning as to WHY some people think ads should be banned. 

Firstly, and this seems like a big one. It can be argued that ads dominate public space. Which, as a London commuter, I can confirm. They do seem to be everywhere. BUT the argument is that ads often dominate public spaces, cluttering the environment and detracting from the natural beauty of cities. By eliminating billboards and signage, cities could regain their architectural integrity and enhance the overall visual appeal.

Now i’d argue that the ads I’ve seen in and around London don’t really dominate anything. Most people just tend to ignore them and move past them all without a second glance (Which is a whole other problem that we might talk about some other time.)   

Secondly critics of advertising argue that it fuels consumerism by creating artificial needs and desires. According to them, banning advertising in cities would help break this cycle and encourage individuals to make more conscious choices based on their genuine needs rather than influenced by persuasive marketing strategies. 

However, A counterpoint to this is that we as an industry should only ever provide punters with information about products, services, and promotions. helping them stay informed about the latest offerings and make informed decisions based on their needs and preferences. And surely if we’re so passionate about free speech  Individuals and businesses have the right to communicate their messages and promote their products or services through advertising.

Thirdly advertising can have negative effects on society, such as promoting unrealistic beauty standards, encouraging unhealthy behaviors, and perpetuating gender stereotypes. By banning advertising in cities, particularly those that target vulnerable groups, these harmful influences could be minimized. This would create a healthier and more inclusive urban environment, where individuals are not constantly bombarded by messages that can negatively impact their self-esteem and well-being.

Now this is a point I sort of agree with. But there is a shift. It is changing. There is more of an effort and movement towards more inclusive advertising. We can use advertising as a powerful tool for promoting positive social messaging. Many have recognized the need to challenge beauty standards, promote body positivity, and combat stereotypes. By encouraging responsible advertising and supporting brands that align with positive values, consumers can contribute to shaping a more inclusive and diverse advertising landscape.

It’s an interesting debate to be had I reckon. And I don’t have the answers. I just hope I’ve presented three arguments for and against that can help inform and lead to healthy discussion. I don’t think ads are the problem, but that’s just me. 

What do you think? 

Peace and love! 


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