My Third Nipple – @rubyq
By Ruby Quince
My Third Nipple
Like any community, there are pretty well defined trends and ways of thinking that dominate SCA. Saving the planet is one. Break the system is another. Of course, you’re encouraged to have your own perspective and your own beliefs. But, you know, break the system or save the planet.
I’m still reminded about that time that I didn’t change an idea to save the planet, despite not really believing in it. In the end I half-caved in after the 5th petition and half-baked the idea. I regret that. Lesson learned: only do it if you’re 100% behind it.
In our recent meetings about placements and jobs, the potential for “doing good” and “saving the planet” were the top qualities people wanted in a future agency. It’s certainly a noble cause.
If you want to save the planet, why would you join an industry that is dominated by brands getting people to consume more? Surely there are a ton of jobs that would appear to be more beneficial to the world than developing desire for stuff.
Does the ambition of most of the class fit with the agencies and brands we aspire to join? How much of agency life be driven by altruism? Sure, it’s in their mission statement and there will be plenty of well-meaning meetings. But real, impactful, world-saving change? There are certainly examples. There are also people with three nipples.
I don’t mean to be the James Bond baddie character, but I also don’t much fancy being a shit punk or an eco warrior wearing Nike, either. I feel that ecology is largely a political issue. Perhaps we can convince Ryan Air to do a ‘don’t buy this jacket’, but it seems unlikely. Maybe I’m not being bold enough. What if I just want to help a client sell a shit-ton of muffins? Am I going to hell? It’s what they asked for, after all. And what I signed up to.
Agency paymasters probably want a result; usually pretty quickly. If saving the planet is part of the objective, then it’s likely in perception over practice. But perhaps that is our greenest strength: The fostering of ecological thinking has a knock-on effect culturally and politically. Empowering individual agency is all good and well, but perhaps it’s the signal it sends to policy-makers that works hardest. The government decided to charge for plastic bags, but I guess it was backed by a belief in consensus? They don’t want to be the James Bond baddie, either.
“Advertising keeps the factories open”, we hear as justification for a lot of advertising. I buy into that to some degree. I guess the real question — and our solution — is, can companies get rich by saving the planet? Can making people feel good about doing something ‘good’ lead to increased support for good causes, and all that comes with that? It’s probably within our gift, some of the time. But not all of the time.