Thursday, April 07, 2005

Advertising vs Journalism - the old argument

Advertising has a bad rap.

It's trying to trick me. I can't trust it. End of argument.

If you want to spread awareness go to the papers! They'll set the record straight.

Ask Adbusters about that one.

These kinds of arguments are based entirely on the assumption that journalists operate on an objective ideal. But the truth is their job is to entice people into a readership whos only reason to be is to Make Money by Selling Advertising Space. The mass media is a vessel to selectively create a reality for whatever message is being bought by the highest bidder.

Advertising is like electricity, it is a vessel to move information. It makes no airs to be anything but. While journalists claim to move information objectively - they are taking paychecks from corporations with other interests - and the foundation of their 'truth' is sponsored.


It's not about what they are writing. It's about what they can write about.


Of course, it is the onus of the company to make sure its information is factual. It is the onus of the advertising to make that truth appealing, digestible and moved quickly into the minds of the consumer, and keep it there. That is the electric effect.

Journalism or Advertising - either way, the same facts are there. It is just a question of how they are served up on your plate. The meal hasn't changed, only the presentation.

The onus of an ethical agency is to only work with companies that tell the truth, and have the best interests of society in mind.

A newspaper's prosperity depends on appeasing the likes of oil companies, questionable pharmaceutical companies, right-wing war-mongering organizations and car manufacturers - when is the last time you opened a newspaper and didn't see an ad for Shell, GM, IBM or any of the most unethical companies in the world? These companies are signing journalist's and editor's paychecks - and I am sure they would applaud the way journalists innocently defend their slant on reality, and intrusion into the availability of certain information as objective and good.

Ever noticed that when there is a car accident they never describe the make of car?

Try to include it. Take a stab at milk, or cigarettes, or oil. Go for it. See it what happens in the editing room.

If you get away with it, great, you are at a small enough paper, with a low enough circulation for it to slip by. You can reach a counterculture.

But try to get it into mass circulation. Up on billboards. Front page. Full page. Full colour. Radio. TV! - or is this sounding more like advertising?

You need to pay to be heard. It's a reality we live in.


People need to spread awareness, but it is not always the best route to transmit this knowledge adequately through the earnestness of a press that is owned by their very competition,

Businesses that have a positive message to share will be safer promoting themselves through paid communication that they can control than they ever will be through an underpaid PR rep, or journalist, that rallies around the same backward companies they are up against.

1 Comments:

At 10:50 AM, Blogger abby said...

"Of course, it is the onus of the (newspaper) company to make sure its information is factual. It is the onus of the advertising to make that truth appealing, digestible and moved quickly into the minds of the consumer, and keep it there. That is the electric effect."

This is the point at which I believe your argument is discredited. It's as if you're trying to say that advertising is a service to the consumer rather than to the client, which perplexes me.

I applaud your agency's approach to advertising and understand that by working only with companies that claim to have society's best interests in mind, you can sleep easier at night. And I believe that when you have an advertising exec that sleeps easier at night, you also have an advertising exect that's able to be more effective for his clients.

Keep up the good work, but be what you are, which is an agency that doesn't need to put a spin on the work it's doing. Let your competitors expend the energy needed to pretend that its messages are ethical. Yours already are.

 

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