The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Love May Be Blind, But Money Can Make You Blind …
January 28, 2009, 11:02 am
Filed under: Comment

Desperate times require desperate measures – never more so when you have many mouths to feed – however, as tough as the economy is for adland, I still find it amazing that WPP/Y&R [allegedly] found it acceptable to make this political commercial for Robert Mugabe.

Mind you, given the WPP/Y&R office in question [allegedly] employed a member of the evil Dictator’s family, I guess money comes before humanity.

This is beyond doing work for organisations like cigarette companies … this is helping a man who the World has highlighted as a tyrant and vicious dictator … so as WPP go about retrenching literally thousands of employees all around the World – under the guise of maintaining profitability in these tough economic times – [even though they are keeping the top brass … who are the top money earners … who are, in the main, the smallest link with the clients … in their privileged, pampered lives] I hope WPP’s shareholders can look themselves in the mirror given their constant demands for ever increasing returns, play a very significant part in the decline of adlands already screwed up moral compass.

As much as I am advocate of looking after your people, I don’t believe a company should go bankrupt for it – however when an organisation is making massive profits whilst still paying excessively high salaries to many, many senior people [whilst in many cases, underpaying the average worker in relation to the hours they do] – then I think any excuse linked to ‘economic hardship’ is pretty lame.

I worked for WPP twice in my life – and I was treated well and generally had a decent time – however I was continually shocked at how many senior people [but certainly not all] I met who were obviously on the ‘gravy train’.

Of course this is not limited to WPP … hell, it’s not just an adland issue … but it’s still wrong and whilst the moral view of many of these actions is subjective, I think doing ads for an evil political dictator would be pretty universally condemned.

I love this industry … I love what it can do … I love the energy and passion and excitement of many of the people in it – but sadly we’ve become another ‘business’, one whose preoccupation is with profit rather than profiting from the development [and execution] of good, powerful, infectious and profitable ideas.

I’m not being commercially naive, I’m being commercially realistic. Aren’t I?

20 Comments so far
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You’re not naive, you’re in touch. I would never want to put my name to something like this… same reason why I had (and raised) issues pitching for a “gambling” client last year.

Comment by Age

You might offer to do work for projects you believe in for free, but you’re not commercially naοve. Not while George is around. πŸ™‚

Great post and another reminder that there are more than just CEO’s to blame for a companies misbehavior.

Comment by Bazza

i think you are totally commercially realistic here, rob. helping a dictator to get the message through is a bit contradictory to the image they try to build/keep up.
of course, wpp are having a corporate responsibility report online which “Looks at the impact of our work, employment and social investment, and details the Group’s performance”. and they “profile examples of work with a social or ethical dimension”. last but not least they are convinced that “Marketing has the power to influence attitudes and behaviour. This influence should be used responsibly.” the art work for the report seems to have an african influence, ironically. oh, and they have even added the following to their code of conduct:
“We will consider the potential for any new client or new commission from an existing client to have a negative impact on the reputation of WPP or the long-term interests of our share owners. We will not undertake work designed to mislead in any regard”. sounds great.

Comment by peggy

Thanks folks … I know I’m not the greatest businessman in the World, but I’m not completely hopeless. Well, not while George is around, ha!

Peggy – if you’re not careful, you’re going to releave Dodds of his ‘Evil’ title – something he has spent years nurturing. I don’t know whether you will appreciate that potential accolade, but it’s meant as a compliment, ha!

I know the commercial pressures of big companies – the need to keep the cash flow flowing – however embarking on activities like the Mugabe campaign when you have so many people being paid vast amounts for nothing more than being paper shufflers, means your actions are undefensable and worthy of all the derision they get.

[Banks please take note. Actually, sod the ‘please’, just take note]

What these organisations don’t understand is that more and more companies are choosing partners based on shared values, not just shared financial opportunities – which is why WPP had to spend a fortune to get Google to do anything with them whereas we had Google come to us.

Sure it’s on a totally different scale and the investment was/is minute in comparison to many of their other experiments/ventures, but the fact of the matter is we got the opportunity of a lifetime because of who we are, not what we were paying – and in commercial value – that could turn out to be a better return on investment than a global Unilever advertising contract.

[‘COULD’ being the operative but-not-that-very-likely word, haha]

Right, off to watch a documentary on bread … the kind you eat, not the kind you used to be able to spend before the financial industry ruined it for so many people πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

It needed a jingle didn’t it?

Comment by John

a jingle? it needed us to be off our fucking faces.

i know your heart is in the right place campbell and you grew up on the streets of nottingham but youre more billy no mates than malcolm fucking x

and for anyone reading this shit please note auntie george might be the financially responsible one but im why people come. that or they want to meet the campbell hippy freak show

well done on the naming and fucking shaming campbell now get back to doing the little bit of fucking work we dont trust you with but give you so you can feel a bit more important than you deserve πŸ™‚

Comment by andy@cynic

i am appreciating that potential accolade rob!

@sir dodds: please take my apologies for being careless. i swear i m not competing for any titles. i will try to behave from now on πŸ™‚

Comment by peggy

wanking can make you blind too campbell and you’re the only one with shit eyesight around here so what does that say eh? eh?

Comment by andy@cynic

I believe the group severed ties with that agency after it was found about their links. I bloody hope so too.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i hate to say it rob, but this is old news (even i heard of it late last year!) and i think mr m is right in saying that the agency has been ditched as a result of ‘pressure’. note: not conscience.

having said that, loads of people i know still laud the SS ‘labour isn’t working’ campaign for thatcher – a dictator who was responsible for the misery of millions, right? πŸ™‚

Comment by lauren

The ad showed horrible unemployment under Labour, which was replaced with even more unemployment under Thatcher.

That Mugabe, killing innocent people with political motives. That would never happen anywhere else…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I know it’s old news – I talked about it when it happened – but there was loads of denials going on and yet they actually made an ad … an ad that is the sort of properganda Goebals would have deemed impressive.

As for Thatcher … she was a nightmare, but her first term was relatively successful given the country she inhereted. [Hence the acclaim given to the ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ ad]

Unfortunately for England, she went the way of the usual dictator/meglomaniac and destroyed families and society … something John Howard aspired to and was celebrated for by too many people for too many terms.

Comment by Rob

can i start again? i just made all those comments in the middle of responding to a curator who i’ve offended ( ‘cos his staff were a nightmare to me) and i got all narky for the wrong reasons.

i’ve decided i don’t want to say anything about it now ‘cos everyone has said all the right things already.. πŸ™

Comment by lauren

I love you Lauren and put that Curator onto me [or Andy] because upsetting you is like upsetting our family and that just won’t do.

[Do I sound tough? Do I?]

Comment by Rob

as fuck.

Comment by lauren

Thanks … I’ll go put on my Mummy’s knitted jumper again then πŸ˜‰

Comment by Robert

Sounds like the Italian in you appearing there…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Don’t let my Mum hear you say that … you know how she hates that Italian stereotype. πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

Indeed, but you disproved by following it up with a plea for acknowledgement of your toughness.

Need more Andy in you to make that stereotype work.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Damn you clever clogs πŸ™‚

Comment by Rob

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