Humans without ethics are like Facebook without memes (shudder). We aren’t really a species that was built to be mindless workhorses dedicated to hoarding money, though that’s the direction we seem to be headed in.
Our ethics are part of the mix that makes us the unique humans that we are. That makes it all the more strange that we often forget to take our personalities and personal morals into account, focusing instead on the salary package or just our talent. We overlook the fact that our values must align at least partially with the organization’s for there to be a fruitful relationship and experience the elusive legend called work satisfaction.
People who choose to enter the world of advertising will find that a medium that reaches out to the masses, holds great power just waiting to be harnessed. It is naturally inevitable that advertising has been used to shape and influence thoughts, expose people to new ideas etc. With great power, comes great responsibility and many in advertising find themselves with burdens of the moral kind. Crossroads can be found aplenty, here, too.
Copywriting, to generalize a bit, is a field often chosen by mavericks and dreamers for the love of writing and working with ideas, albeit in a world that values money more than anything else. We live and work in a world where Art has less relevance; so advertising is seen as a compromise between choosing creativity and a steady, salaried job. Not surprisingly, it can be soul crushing to find yourself in a situation in direct conflict with your principles, religion or ethics.
While many believe advertising to be a roller coaster ride of cocktail parties, that is indeed not the case. Nor is advertising just about ideas and ‘punny’ lines. The moral dilemmas previously mentioned are of a more serious nature.
As a mass medium that holds sway over millions, advertising must be careful and responsible with the messages it sends. Over the years, we’ve seen false information, harmful stereotypes, derogatory messages, negative portrayals, surrogate promotion of smoking or drinking and so much more, that have given rise to formal rules and a code of ethics which call for self-regulation – because there is simply no law against it. While lines can be blurred, loopholes discovered, and creative license can be used as an excuse, you may find yourself in a moral quandary. In such a situation, you have the right to say no to a particular job, stating your reasons, but the response to your stance may wary: some agencies may respect your decision, while some simply fire you.
I remember a senior writer in America once telling me that he would happily sell medicines but not guns, even though both were legally acceptable in many states in the US.
So when choosing advertising projects to work on, make sure you take your personality, beliefs and mental strengths into account, too. That said, there is a place for all types of people in advertising, but only if you really look for it. The typical ad agency is a destination for people longing for adventure, challenges and new experiences.
If you have certain do’s and don’t’s, you could opt to work in an in-house agency or work as a freelancer. Many business owners set up their own agencies which work exclusively on particular products. This is done to save costs and have a department that understands the product perfectly. The advantage of working in such a setup is that the agency will have a fixed tone, style and rules. If the company’s principles align with yours, you know that you won’t run into a situation that could put your job at risk, nor keep you awake feeling guilty.
As a freelancer, you will have the freedom to choose your own timings and projects that you believe in, and work for fees that you are comfortable with. No doubt it will be difficult to get the ball rolling, it can be quite rewarding and lucrative when you do get into the groove.
Your best bet is to be so good at your job, that you can command a price of your choosing and only take up projects you believe in. With the right training, all this is and more is possible. You could kick-start your career by learning from the best in the industry. Omnivore academy, with experienced professionals at the helm, offers a 3-months’ copywriting course which is entirely online.
Check it out!