Isn’t It About Time That Advertisers And Agencies Were Brought To Account For The Way They Pollute Our Lives?

We have all become far more aware of the impact that we are having on our planet. As a result, we are encouraged to behave in a more environmentally friendly way.

But what about our social and cultural environment? By that I mean the things that surround us every day; our streets, our homes, the magazines we read, newspapers, television, film, bars, cafes, the internet. The things that make up the landscape of our lives.

Doesn't that cultural environment deserve some protection too?

It might not be physically damaging in the same way as environmental damage to the planet. But as individuals and as a society, our lives are polluted daily by scores of ugly, stupid, banal and insulting commercial messages.

Not all of them, but many of them. Commercials shout at us. They repeat utter nonsense endlessly. They dress-up dangerous services in friendly clothes. Depict plastic, inane characters who say stupid things. They interrupt our viewing with inexplicably dumb bursts of trash. Adverts flash starbursts and giant type at us, treating us like idiots. Writing talks down to us, or at us, often accompanied by desperate and offensive design.

Messages that could easily be communicated with charm and beauty instead become pollution that blights our everyday lives. So much so that we have learned to block it out, like the unfortunates who live next to the stench of a sewage plant.

I strongly believe that companies and organisations have the right to make commercial messages, and to communicate those messages to people. But surely there is a onus on those responsible to make sure that those messages don't pollute and detract from society?

Well the truth is that currently there is no such responsibility, is there?

Whilst some of us, agencies and clients alike, believe that intelligent, engaging, human, truthful, well-crafted, beautiful, artistic or enjoyable commercial messages are far more beneficial commercially, there are plenty of people and companies out there who appear more than happy to spray the world with commercial effluent if they think that will result in a few extra bucks, or a few fewer hours on the timesheet.

The cultural environment is at the mercy of whether the people producing the advertising are of the former or latter persuasion.

This seems wrong. When it comes to the planet, if it's left to corporations and executives to self-determine whether they be good citizens of the world environmentally, commercial pressures mean that far fewer behave in an environmentally friendly way. We know this. 

So when it comes to the planet, the carrot of public goodwill takes corporations only so far; it is the stick of taxation, legislation and fines that does the really heavy lifting.

Doesn't it follow that our social and cultural environment, our everyday lives, be offered the same protection?

Shouldn't advertisers, and the agencies responsible for the idiotic and the ugly, be fined or heavily taxed for unnecessarily polluting it?

It seems to me that it wouldn't be that difficult to police. A panel made up of ex industry experts, writers, designers, ex-clients, and independents could be easily be paid for by the immediate fines that would be levied against countless infractors. The vast amounts of cash inevitably left over could be channelled into projects that benefit the cultural environment.

Repeat offenders would be hit with increasing fines, and be subject to pre-vetting. Individuals in companies would have to explain to their board that their decisions to run brash, idiotic, shouty or ugly advertising had cost those companies money. Thus there would become a financial imperative to making sure that that all communication and advertising was actually fit to be put out into our environment.

Isn't it about time that, just as corporations have been forced to respect the environment, they were forced to respect our right to have daily lives free from their communication pollution too?

Bill Bernbach Said #59

Number 59 in our Bernbach series...

“Working from a method or a formula is guaranteed to do the same thing to the effectiveness of an idea that time does to a loaf of bread. Ideas must be hot out of the oven if they are to arouse the appetite. That is why, in communications, imitation is commercial suicide.

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

The illusion of choice

We just spotted this great logo info-graphic showing how a massive number of US brands are owned by a few corporate behemoths. 

New Andy Smith Niceness

It's always a happy day when some new Andy Smith work arrives in Sell! Towers, and this new delivery certainly brightened up today. His work looks great in the newspaper format. Thanks Andy.

George Lois Cover For Shortlist

George Lois has art directed this cover for Shortlist magazine, apparently that is Mr Lois himself in the gas mask. See his legendary Esquire covers here.


Portraits By Man Ray

An amazing set of portraits taken by Man Ray between 1921 and 1937. Found via Retronaut, and in turn via Mondo.

AndrĂ© Breton

Salvador Dali

Benjamin Fondane

Bernard Deshoulieres

Bronislava Nijinska

Denise Tual

Edward James

Ernest Hemingway

Helen Tamaris

Jacqueline Goddard

Joan Miro

Joseph Stella and Marcel Duchamp

Le Corbusier

Lee Miller

Marcel Duchamp

Bill Bernbach Said #58

Number 58 in our Bernbach series...

“It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator’s skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen.

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

Advertising's 10 Best Kept Secrets

Why not start your week with a little controversial truth telling from Bob?


Shit Football Lookalikes

If you like football, then whoateallthepies is always worth a visit. There's plenty more of delights like these here.

                                  Andre Arshavin & A Three Toed Sloth

                                  David De Gea & Peter from Jumanji

                                  Puyol, Pique & Armenian Mountain Monument

                                  Martin Skrtel & Flukeman from "The X-Files"

Naming Nuts

An important conversation in our exclusively carnivore agency about what nuts constitute a "Luxury 5 Nut Roast" and whether the term "luxury" can ever justifiably applied to the words "nut roast" led us to remember this classic clip from Best In Show.

By the way, the answers to the questions above are walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, almonds and cashews. And most definitely not.

Union Carbide Super Insulation

One of the great product demonstration commercials. A little cruel to the little birdie some might say, but very effective nonetheless. Via Drayton Bird.

Bill Bernbach Said #57

A cracker this, number 57 in our Bernbach series...

“There are two attitudes you can wear: that of cold arithmetic or that of warm, human persuasion. I will urge the latter on you. For there is evidence that in the field of communications the more intellectual you grow, the more you lose the great intuitive skills that make for the greatest persuasion – the things that really touch and move people.

Read all of the previous Bernbach Said posts here.

A Delicious Decade of Design

Blimey how time flies. Our good friend and collaborator Delicious Industries has just turned ten years old. Delicious is a little like us in that they don't do creative and design awards or self-publicity. But they've been quietly spending the last ten years creating classic identities, lovely design and beautiful typography (some of it for us, thanks D.I.) and photography. And more recently producing their own clever print items, like their Howdoos personalisable business cards and hand letter-pressed cards. Happy Birthday Delicious Industries, here's to ten more great years! Good people doing good work, why not head over to the excellent Delicious blog and congratulate them?