How do you sleep at night? By @petranandersson
By Petra Andersson
How do you sleep at night?
Yesterday, we had a master class with Jonathan Wise – an award-winning planner turned environmentalist. And as we all probably know, advertising is the crown jewel of capitalism. As the school motto says: we sell or we die. That also means that we’re highly responsible for contributing to climate change as we encourage people to use more than they need – and to waste the earth’s resources like there’s no tomorrow (and soon there won’t be).
So what can we do to make a change?
According to Jonathan, one way is advertising agencies taking a bigger responsibility for their environmental footprint by turning down accounts and briefs. That way, the baddies will sooner or later have to disappear, because no one wants to work with them. I suppose this is something that many agencies already do – I know it’s been talked about quite a lot in the Swedish industry; who to work for and not.
Poppy raised an interesting question, which as always means that it’s difficult to answer: What if unsustainable brands turn to other agencies that we know have no scruples whatsoever? I guess a few agencies will always be ready to do whatever it takes to win an account. The Sweden Democrats – our very own version of UKIP – had some difficulties to find an agency. They did in the end, but very few other brands want to be associated with the agency now.
The questions of advertisings responsibilities in a bigger perspective have always fascinated me. However, Jonathan also managed to filter this question down to an individual level. What are our values? When is it time for us to speak up and try to make change happen?
Our values are influenced a lot by the environment we’re in. When we come to a new group we want to feel like we belong. Slowly but surely we start to build a consensus about who we are, what we do and what we think. And that’s when our values start to shift. This is why diversity in background, gender and colour is crucial to make sure that an agency, and the work that comes out of it, isn’t too similar and expected.
To create interesting agencies and advertising, we therefore also need diversity in moral values. I think it’s important to make clear to yourself what your values are and why you believe in them. Otherwise, there’s always a risk that you steer off in a direction that’s different from who you are and want to be. Sure, change is vital, both for humankind and individuals – else we’d come nowhere. I also think it’s healthy to try and think from another point of view to see where someone is coming from – and maybe even realise that their values and views make more sense than yours.
But whatever you do, please make sure that you don’t steer too far away from who you are. Keep your list of values and whys close to your heart and stick to the ones you truly believe in. Even if those around you don’t. And follow Jonathan’s advice and listen to, and surround yourself with, people with other thoughts and values. Make sure that the things you decide to follow and believe in are chosen for a reason – and avoid becoming part of a unity that’s boring and bland.