Only 9% of people polled by the Gallup Organization rated ad exec ethics as "very high" or "high," putting them, of 21 professions in the poll, ahead of ONLY car salesmen and telemarketers.
This might be cause for alarm until you find out that even after all the Enron/WorldCom shenanigans, Accountants were ranked 10 spots higher on the list. Also beating the ad community were Building contractors, Congressmen, Labor union leaders and funniest of all, the Clergy.
So let’s see, it’s more ethical to cook the books of major corporations putting thousands out of work and destroying the saving of millions of shareholders than to invite people to buy a BMW instead of a Ford?
It’s OK to diddle the choirboys, but shame on you if you sell shampoo or corn flakes or home insurance?
You get higher marks if you bury Jimmy Hoffa in the concrete under Giants Stadium, than if you entice audiences to learn more about OTC drugs or why Brand X gets clothes cleaner than Brand Y?
It’s better to resign your office in shame over accepting bribes from constituents than telling readers there is a sale on kid’s clothes over the weekend?
The poll asked about the ethics of ad professionals, but I don’t think that’s what people responded to. I think they’re just pissed off about advertising and figure that anybody creating or disseminating the stuff must be immoral; uh, make that unethical.
Do you suppose it’s because they agree with the overweight teens that burgers and fries made ‘em fat? No, it’s because the Big Mac they get doesn’t look ANYTHING like the Big Mac they see in the ads. And because the kids behind the counter don’t look anything like those cheery milk-fed candy stripers on TV, but rather reflect in attitude and performance the despair and resentment they feel being at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Do you think it’s because the public doesn’t want to buy the perfume? No, it’s because they realize that even IF they buy the perfume, their love lives are not going to be transformed the way they are when models dab on the stuff in the commercials. Aside from the fact that if you are lovely enough to be featured in a TV commercial for perfume, most men couldn’t care less if you smelled like a Pakistani long-haul trucker crossing the Mojave.
Think they really don’t want travel discounts? No, they just don’t want to have to remove them from their screens in order to see the content they came to site for in the first place.
How about email offers? Think maybe it has more to do with the arduous task of hitting the delete key instead or the explicit photos of sex with farm animals or promises of riches from casinos that don’t even have real crap tables or slot machines?
Surely it’s not having to watch 11 minutes of commercials before seeing the movie they just ponied up $10 to see; or the annoying programming promos that stream across prime time dramas; or walking down the street and having to step over commercials painted on the intersection or sidewalk; or those FSIs that weigh more than the Sunday paper itself; or those phone calls at dinner asking if you want to change your long-distance carrier RIGHT NOW!
Couldn’t have anything to do with your kids sitting in front of the TV and saying, “I want that…” to everything they see between two Rugrats stories? Or porn screens that pop up faster than you can close them? Or elevator ads, or subway ads, or taxi ads, or sky writing at the beach, or cars shaped like snack crackers or boxers with ads tattooed across their backs….
Ya know, those Building contractors, Congressmen, Labor union leaders and Clergy aren’t looking so bad after all.
Adam Guild is President of Interep Interactive