TED Conversations

Chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky


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Do the creators of advertising have any obligation other than to drive results for clients?

Clearly, a lot of people believe that intelligent, engaging advertising is also the most effective. But it's equally clear that a lot of people don't. Just watch TV.

Most broadcast advertising is still intrusive -- the audience doesn't seek it, it seeks them. Beyond the obvious responsibility to be effective for the client, do people who make ads have any responsibility to enlighten, inform or entertain the audience?

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  • Jun 6 2011: Wow. I feel like I threw a pork chop into a pool of incredibly intelligent piranhas.

    I started this conversation because I perhaps saw one too many commercials that caused me to throw something at the TV. Griffin Tucker, in his response, expressed it a different way. I think the words were "a great hatred".

    The point I wanted to make was simple. If you're going to put something on the air that we all have to look at, put a little creativity and craft and intelligence into it. Don't just scream "buy one, get one free" for thirty seconds Naively, I thought this was a yes-or-no question. Instead, we've ended up with an exchange of some really interesting ideas ranging from the duties of an individual to society to the role of popular culture to who gets to decide what's good and bad anyway.

    James Walker was, I think, the first to respond. His comments have been unvaryingly intelligent and thoughtful and he is not someone I'd like to debate. His position, however, is that an ad maker has a responsibilty only to the client, and he uses the analogy that an architect's responsibly is also only to the client whose house he's designing. I think this is an apt analogy but it brings me to the opposite conclusion. I think an architect's FIRST responsibility is to the client, but I think there is also a responsibility to think about the effects -- aesthetically, environmentally, and otherwise -- that his or her creation will have on the community and the world.

    I fully expect to be intellectually trumped by James in the next 24 hours, but I'm okay with that. The fact is that this conversation has caused me to think way more deeply about this issue than I ever intended, and to re-examine what was, admittedly, a pretty simplistic position.

    And in the end, I guess that's the point.
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      Jun 6 2011: maybe the word "obligation" what caused all the heat. if the question was "would you have a drink with the guy who created the calgon ads?" the answer probably would be a simple yes or no, and most likely a no. however, i would happily have a drink with rory sutherland. he is a brilliant guy with spectacular stories to tell.
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      Jun 6 2011: We need to remember that an ad man is always selling and perhaps James Walker is the one who is in a position to buy?
      • Jun 6 2011: I don't actually know James Walker, but the only thing I'm selling right now is a low mileage '04 Mercedes.
        If he's interested, we can certainly talk. It's sort of silver grey.
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      Jun 7 2011: Hey Charles..and all who engaged here.

      .shows to go you if you take any element that is about any interaction between and among humans, intsitutions, corporations and stick to it in discenrnment and respect you will eventually arrive at a kind fo higher ground where you are wiser than when you sarted the process and have more of value to bring to the next round whether here at Ted or as Conte is doing backinto our lives through conversations at home and perhaps public meetings.

      Here it seems as if we also landed in a kind of consensus that we would appreciate it if coprorations and advertisers speak whenever possible to the higher and better of "we the people" and that there is no reason not to do that

      but that we as individuals have to take repsonsbility for our own choices and our actions..we can't expect corporations and advertisers to re engineer us

      .I didn't expect this conversation to lead to such fundamentally important ground.Thank you all. I have learned so much being here with you

      .PS Charles..rag top? sports model? miles?? ( just kidding.. I will never give up my bright red 2001 jeep wrangler soft top..even if it takes an army to put the top up and down)

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