On the contrary, we ARE saving lives.
“Overworked and underpaid.” It’s something every advertising creative has muttered under their breath. The brain drain, campaign after campaign, late nights every week, and missing life for a weekend grind with the aim to sell a bar of soap, an overpriced perfume or a campaign that will get your name on an award list.
Now, it’s 1am. Frustrated and fatigued, we turn to our colleague (on their third cup of coffee in the past hour) and groan, “Why are we doing this? It’s not like we’re saving lives.”
Still, we stay, because our passion keeps us here. The very same passion that allows us to create and recreate, conjure and influence, in ways big and small, on our way towards creative excellence or sending that message.
In recent years however, modern-day advertising is lost on new world views and smarter audiences –– its messages tainted by pretentiousness and false appeal –– because of this it is easy for us to dismiss the vital role creativity has to play in creating awareness and changing perceptions in and around the world we live in.
From ancient civilisation to the Renaissance, all the way through to the post-modern world we know today, artists and creatives have used their skills and tools to send important messages. Through visuals and poetry, from carvings on the wall to popular culture, they have opened the world’s eye to messages about love, hate, fear, discrimination, politics, and war. The late 20th Century, as we know, famously sparked the rise of art activism and became a canvas for the expression of social injustices.
Now, into the Technological Era and the Information Age, the world is in a slightly different place. The problems we face are more transparent and stirring than ever before. Every day we are more exposed to issues surrounding the deterioration of the earth and its roaming beasts, economic warefare and poverty, racial inequality, gender inequality, gender-based violence, child abuse, modern day slavery, and war –– so much war.
All corners of the earth are ignited with the desire to renounce our seemingly antiquated laws, regimes and oppressions. Today, people are louder in the fight for change.
As creatives and creative agencies our role becomes imperative.
Our ability to produce images that evoke emotion or pen words that shout awareness offers us the chance to find more creative ways to break borders and challenge our societies. Across the globe, creative industries are taking advantage of our unique access to brands, budgets (or lack thereof) and media to go beyond the reach of traditional advertising, and develop campaigns that give people a voice and tell the stories the world needs to hear.
Here are a few recent campaigns that do just that:
The Fearless Girl
The statue of The Fearless Girl by McCann New York and artist Kristen Visbal was installed in Bowling Green Park (USA) just in time for International Women’s Day 2017. The Fearless Girl is placed directly in front of the famous Wall Street Charging Bull to symbolise the power of women in leadership, in conjunction with a campaign by SSGA that highlights their research around the improved financial earning of companies with women in top positions.
Agency: McCann New York
Artist: Kristen Visbal
Client: State Street Global Advisors
School For Justice
India has the largest rate of child sex prostitution and forced prostitution in the world. Because of this J. Walter Thompson (Amsterdam) was approached to create a campaign to raise awareness around this issue. What they did is more than a traditional campaign ever could. Together with Free a Girl Movement, the agency decided to address the problem by opening "School For Justice" which takes victims of sexual exploitation in and teaches them law and other skills that would empower them to actually prosecute the perpetrators who owned and sold them.
Agency: J. Walter Thompson (Amsterdam)
Client: Free a Girl Movement
We're the Superhumans
The campaign promoted the 2012 Paralympic Games in a way it never had before, starring non-athletes as Paralympic stars flying planes, playing in a band, ballroom dancing and other activities beyond our own imagination. The extraordinary outdoor and online campaign not only contributed to the Paralympic Games selling out for the first time ever but opens our eyes to the magic people with disabilities truly have.
Agency: Leland Music / London + 4creative / London + Blink / London + Factory / London
Client: Channel 4 / Rio Paralympics
The tear-open-mailing for “Mein Kampf – against racism”
In light of Germany's new struggle with right-wing extremism, Ogilvy Germany takes a controversial twist on Hitler's Nazi propaganda book, "Mein Kampf". The agency produced counter books with Hitler's original layout and title on a tear-off cover that reveals 11 diverse people and their own courageous struggle against racism, which were then delivered to journalists. The books triggered a drive to PR and social media encouraging people to talk and stand up against racism.
Agency: Ogilvy GermanyClient: Gesicht Zeigen! An association encouraging people to stand against racism in Germany
Agency: Ogilvy Germany
Client: Gesicht Zeigen! An association encouraging people to stand against racism in Germany
People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) is a not-for-profit human rights organisation devoted to fighting for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants. Together with VML South Africa, and no budget, they targeted social media to make people think about and understand the implications of their words and consider their own role in this global humanitarian crisis.
"We built an automated engine to hijack the global conversation by finding comments on Twitter containing the word, “refugee” and automatically replaced that word with the phrase, “human being” - tweeting it back to the sender and reminding the world that these are human beings that we are talking about.
We chose to run our campaign on Twitter because of the instant and global nature of the platform - this allowed us to continue the conversation as it happened – making even more of an impact."
Agency: VML South Africa
The violation of Human Rights occurs every second of every single day across the world. Art, music and social media are mass mediums that either sensationalise and promote social downfalls or creates awareness and support to encourage a more positive landscape. It's issues like these that make our role as creatives so much more important than we realise. Together we need to re-form perceptions and enforce action to create a world that is safe for the most vulnerable of our societies and spread love and empathy in every single thing we do.
In-between our brainstorms for toothpaste and car ads, we have the unique opportunity to create campaigns that drive a positive narrative and influence a world of change around us.
So, if we still think that we're not here to save lives, we need to think again.