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Laura Desmond

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Can advertising be both a force for commerce AND a force for good?

People love to say they hate advertising – and in many ways, I think we've earned our bad reputation (which might sound strange coming from the CEO of the largest media agency in the world). Personally, I believe that advertising has a responsibility to be more informative, more relevant, and more reliable in helping people navigate the landscape of choices in their lives. At the same time, we have to honor our commitment and responsibility to our client partners to grow their businesses and build their brands. In your view, what advertisers are doing the best job of serving this dual role in a genuine way? What are some examples you've seen, both past and present, that demonstrate being a force for good as well as a force for business? What more can be done in this space?

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  • Jan 24 2012: I read many of the comments and did not see anyone raise this point and apologize if I am reiterating the stance someone has already taken.

    To advertise you need a product, service or cause in which to share. If that item is not inherently "good" (which has not been defined through this debate) then you are limited in the messaging you can share about that item. I define "good" as something that without motive will raise the standard of living. I know this is a very broad definition but "good is a very broad word.

    Time to take a stance - advertising can be good for commerce and improve the betterment of the world as long as the product, service or cause you are advertising is intent to do the same. If you are trying to advertise a product that pollutes the environment, has major health risks and costs more well.... that's why spin marketing was created to engage but deflect from the flaws of the product.

    I think this is a great topic to debate but in my opinion the egg definitely comes before the chicken and the chicken can only be as good as the egg.
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      Jan 25 2012: You raise an interesting point - what is the definition of "good"? Many of the comments on this thread point to cause marketing as examples of advertising as a force for good. I think we can broaden that if we take it to a more personal level and think about things are sources of "good" in our own lives. For me, "good" can be range from something that makes me laugh to something that teaches me to something that inspires me to think differently. By those standards, there is a lot of potential for advertising to "grow the good", whether that be measured by societal change, or the spreading of new ideas or simply by good humor and laughter.

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