by KATE HUNTER
Here’s a tip: if you work in advertising, never, ever mention it to a cab driver. Apparently ad people rank lower than politicians and marginally above journalists in the cabbies’ esteem-o-meter.
I spent twenty-something years in ad agencies. It wasn’t quite Mad Men, but there were days and weeks that were very mad.
Still, I worked with interesting, clever people. And a bunch of plonkers too – in that respect it was like any other business. We did mostly good work, coming up with ideas that sold stuff for our clients and hopefully didn’t piss too many people off.
For some reason though, advertising is surrounded by an air of evil mystery – there’s a perception that advertising agency staff spend their days plotting devious tricks to sell unwanted things to vulnerable people – with children particularly in our sights.
Kids are getting too fat, kids are getting to skinny, kids are turning into horrible brats wielding ‘pester power’ like the light sabers they pestered their parents into buying. And it’s ALL ADVERTISING’S FAULT.
Really, parents should love advertising! It shifts the blame from our overburdened shoulders and plonks it directly onto unshaven, overpaid teenagers lounging about in creative departments. Gotta love a whipping boy in a $200 t-shirt.
I don’t believe advertising is inherently bad. There are bad products – and there have been accounts I’ve refused to work on, but basically, if it’s legal to make and sell something I reckon you should be allowed to promote it.
If you’ve ever sold a car in the Trading Post, YOU’VE DONE ADVERTISING. And you no doubt made your message as appealing as possible, leaving out the part about the dicky air conditioner.
Because of a couple of books I’ve written, and an appearance on The Gruen Transfer, I’m regularly invited to schools to talk about advertising. The way I see it, we can either teach our kids how to decode advertising – how not to be suckered into buying stuff they don’t need and can’t afford. Or, we can keep advertising from them and them from advertising. I’m not sure that’s possible, and if it is, it’s no fun for anyone.
I don’t understand people who say, ‘Let’s at least keep the junk food ads off children’s television.’
But does ‘children’s television,’ even exist any more? When I was growing up in the seventies we watched The Brady Bunch, Glligan’s Island and Happy Days in the afternoons and then Dad came in and said, ‘Turn that rubbish off, the news is on.’ And that was it.