Monday, 21 March 2011

Critical Debates In Design: Task 7: Thou Shalt Not Advertise...

"The Nazis had the most effective corporate identity ever – this should warn us. That evil, horrible regime had this superlative corporate identity in which they didn’t tolerate any diversity."

Ken Garland for Eye Magazine - 2001

In an increasingly competitive market place, advertisements are almost everywhere; we see or hear a lot of them on the TV sets, in the underground, on billboards, in newspaper ads and in the public transport. Moreover, we allow them to shape our lives; they influence the music we listen, the clothes we wear, and the places we eat. Most brands market their products not only with advertisements but also by celebrities, movies, magazines, newspapers and on the internet. Licensed products, in the form of clothing, toys, and accessories, abound. Schools make deals with soda companies and sell naming rights to gyms to the highest bidder. Therefore, besides all those clear advertisement strategies, the social networks allows us to market ourselves to millions of other people everyday. It is not a secret that, advertisements comes to us from all directions, twenty-four seven. In this manner, the role of advertising is not only to direct the customers perception about what they need to buy but also to manipulate our dreams, goals, and lifestyles.

Advertising has a central role to play in developing brand image, whether at a the corporate retail or product level. It should have inform consumers of the functional capabilities of the brand while simultaneously imbuing the brand with symbolic values and meanings relevant to the consumer while preserving the ethics. Thus, the main aim of advertisers is to attract consumers attention and make them buy this or that unnecessary product whether they like it or not. There are intrusive advertisements for example those on the TV; in such a case you understand the aims of advertisers and it is more difficult for them to make you buy the product. The only way you buy it is to persuade you with the help of logical arguments that you really need it. But there is another type of advertising; the secret one. For instance the sweeties and other small and more often unnecessary things near the cash desks in supermarkets. It goes without saying that while standing in a long queue and examining all these goods you will certainly buy at least one. As experiments shows that this trick works with 97% of the customers.

Ethics should have always been an important issue for every business activity, although the term has meant different things at different times in different lands to different people. Unfortunately, the advertising industry has rarely cared to look beyond immediate marketing objectives. The argument in the industry is that it is the government's job to judge what is right and what is wrong. In my opinion the companies and agencies are shirking their own responsibilities for regulation. Therefore, I certainly agree that the ethic assessments should differ for each country according to their religion variation and cultural levels. For instance, a swimsuit advertisement might not disturb the public of one country but may disturb some other. Yet, the advertisement ethics is a very deep subject, from TV advertisements to billboards, different media mediums needs different approaches. All in all, products like, tobacco, condoms, politic ideologies, alcohol or anything which may effect children should not be on billboards all around the world.

Tibor Kalman’s famous quote – "designers, stay away from corporations that want you to lie for them", made into a billboard by Jonathan Barnbrook - one of the designers who signed the 2000 Manifesto - for the 1999 AIGA Las Vegas.
According to me good advertising is the responsible one. Moreover, I certainly support the designers who signed the First Thing First Manifesto. It is because there is no such a thing as value-free design. All the things that designers do, will meet the audience eventually, and those images will effect somebody's' perception in a good or bad way.  Therefore, this eye-opening manifesto was first written in 1963 and published in 1964 by the great British, designer Ken Garland along with 20 other designers, photographers and students, the manifesto was a reaction to staunch of 1960s Britain and called for a return to a humanist aspect of design. It lashed out against the fast-paced and often trivial productions of mainstream advertising, calling them trivial and time-consuming. It's solution was to focus efforts of design on education and public service tasks that promoted the betterment of society. The manifesto was updated in 2000 by and signed by some of the leading stars of the graphic design, artistic and visual arts community. It was republished by Emigre, Eye and other important graphic design magazines and has stirred controversy in graphic design, again.

Ethics in Advertising, a Speech by Chris Moore of Ogilvy & Mather, Available at; 
Eye Magazine, Available at;, First Thing First Manifesto, Available at;
Eye Magazine, Available at;, Ken Garland Interview, Available at;
Emigre Essays, Available at;, First Thing First Manifesto, Available at;
Wikipedia, Available at;, First Thing First Manifesto, Available at;

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