Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-05-11

Designers and Social Accountability

Anna over at Speak Up blog bravely tackles the responsibilities designers face when creating ads that promote junk food to kids...

"As an aspiring designer and an ardent believer in the adverse affects of misguided advertising, I believe we as an industry need to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. If people are fat, and they are fat because they are eating unhealthy food, then we are responsible for making that unhealthy food appealing. How do you convince someone that eating a burger that comes out of a tube is not only healthy, but also tasty? Well we did, and now it is our job to figure out how to reverse this appalling trend."

Here is my response....

Anna,

I think you have a valid point and we, as the creators of advertising, do, in fact, have a unique responsibility in this as we directly benefit ($) from ads. The same responsibly rests on the companies, marketers, printers, etc. as we all directly make our living promoting "stuff." That DOES differentiate us from other professionals: doctors, police officers, teachers etc. That does not mean that society as a whole is not also accountable for social change, but it does award us more responsibility when it comes to advertising images/messages.

The only problem I see in your call to action is this: What issues do we tackle? Childhood obesity is just one of a myriad of problems loosely associated with false messaging. I am curious if you extend this philosophy beyond food marketing and youth?
What are your thoughts? Should we be held accountable for advertising potentially harmful products? Should we be involved in creating new standards for advertising and marketing?
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