Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I would do anything for money, but I won’t do that

If you try hard enough, you can convince yourself anything is okay. Selling cigarettes. Working for big oil. Listening to James Blunt.
My conscience seems to have actually become more tender as I go on in this business. I used to think nothing of flogging credit cards and gas guzzlers. Whereas these days, there has to be at least a sniff of an award before I’ll touch it.
It’s something we don’t seem to discuss much. I remember once having the whole ethical debate with a fellow copywriter. He confessed he was struggling with being in the business full-stop, in fact he and his wife were looking into VSO. A few weeks later, he got a brief for a credit card with a particularly staggering rate and as I passed his office, I saw him staring forlornly at a map of Africa on the wall. He now works in-house at Oxfam.
I’ve turned down a couple of briefs in the past. The BNP, confused.com, that kind of thing. Once I even went to an interview where the agency mentioned they worked for an arms company. Just think, a job writing ads for products that just outright kill innocent people. Wow. I’m ashamed to admit, I was so taken aback that I didn’t even say anything, just sat there for the whole interview wasting everyone’s time. How’s that for sticking it to ‘em?
So what have you said no to?
Is there anything you wouldn’t do for money? Or would you even do that?


  1. Pick someone else's nose and eat it.

  2. The truly tragic thing, of course, is the stuff interns will do for no money...

  3. I'm confused. Why refuse to work on confused.com?

  4. A sweaty-palmed recruitment guy once tried to send my Art Director and I for an interview at an agency that had carved a glorious niche for themselves: selling arms through the medium of direct mail. The money was good. Very good. But it could NEVER, EVER be good enough. We declined. We have sold very expensive loans to desperate poor people, though.

  5. Hi Chalky
    Sorry, I think I was trying to be humorous, comparing the offensiveness of far-right racist views with the offensiveness of compare.com's advertising. Now I try to explain it I realise it doesn't really make sense.
    In future I'm considering highlighting 'humour' in my posts by making the type bold or a different colour or caps, just to give readers a fighting chance.
    I do appreciate you guys ploughing on through anyway

  6. Oh OK, I was just being thick - I thought that maybe confused.com had some dark secret that I didn't know about, like having children or dwarfs locked inside their mainframes doing the price comparisons or something.

  7. I sold my soul a long while back. I used to work on Imperial Tobacco, now i work on Tobacco control - i figure they even each other out. This is Postsecret right?

  8. I did ads for crappy cameras, crappy candy bars, crappy cheese and a lot other crappy things.

    Well, in a perfect world ...

  9. have you won any awards then?

  10. I did some work for BAT. Met some professional smokers. They stood in a room and smoked. They could tell you where the tobacco came from in the cigs they were smoking. Unless they were bulshitting.

    Turned down Nestle,though. And some drugs companies........