In the past couple of weeks, the ad industry has been home to a much-admired effort to call attention to sexism in advertising. That effort was called #WomenNotObjects and consisted of a two-minute video created by agency founder Madonna Badger. The effort was created in reaction to the rampant objectification of women in advertising that has been the norm for years and was designed to encourage everyone to think about how they portray women in advertising.
Also occurring in the last two weeks was the intended-as-joke email sent to Campbell Ewald staffers in San Antonio by a creative which read, "Also please share with the teams that today is officially Ghetto Day in the SA, and we're inviting our Big D homebitches to cycle in and pop a freak with us. Ghetto music, Malt 45s at lunch, and of course, drugs and prostitution are legal all day until close of business. Word, my cerebral gangsters."
The email resulted in the firing of the creative -- months after the fact -- as well as the firing of Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer.
So what's the lesson learned here? It's really nothing new and it's a very simple method of thinking that can be applied to any situation even in today's ever-changing, politically charged minefield.
Think before you speak.
No, really, that's it. When you think about something before you act on that something, you take into consideration the ramifications tied to that something and how they will affect those who come into contact with that something.
Well, as long as you possess at least a modicum of culturally tuned analytical skills. Sadly, it seems, many people do not possess those skills or, for some reason, fail to access them when they are most needed.
But all is not lost for those with a deficiency in this area. Even if one does not possess the necessary skills to prevent oneself from looking like an idiot, or worse, getting fired from a job, one can access the skill set of others.
Yeah. You know. Friends. Family. Co-workers. It's as easy as asking, "How do you think people will react to this?"
Countless face plants, firings and account losses and yes, idiotic/stupid/hurtful/sexist/misogynistic/racist ad campaigns could have been saved if only more people would use this simple method. Think first. And if your life experiences have dictated that you are incapable of thinking first (or if you aren't comfortable making a decision on your own), then run, don't walk, to your friends, family or co-workers and run your thoughts by them.
I guarantee you will avoid countless hassles, embarrassments and setbacks in life and in work if you do. This applies to individuals as much as it does to companies. And as we all know from a historical litany of advertising embarrassments, most every ad agency on the planet could likely do well by hanging giant signs in their offices which read "Think First."
So please, please, please. As much as those of us charged with writing about these disasters might temporarily experience a bit of gleefully, sadistic schadenfreude, in the long run, no one's really winning.
Do us all a favor. Think first. And win.