I once asked my retired adman dad if he ever felt bad about making good ads for bad products, and he trotted out the old saw that nothing kills a bad product like good advertising, because the advertising exposes the product to the harsh light of day.
But I pressed him, asking if he ever felt weird about making warm creative for cold corporations, smart ads for dumb clients or noble messages for morally bankrupt executives.
Even in the privacy of his den, he leaned forward and whispered.
“Sometimes,” he confessed, “we hoped our stuff might make them a little better.”
Virtuous communication shaming a client into changing its ways, or inspiring a client to live up to a higher standard: It’s the communicator’s secret hope.
But has it ever actually happened?
I wonder, and I don’t want to know.