I've been on the lookout for advertising like this ever since I came across those bastards at "Cancer for Christmas."
So when I saw this billboard for "Leprosy" on O'Donnel Street a couple weeks ago, I immediately snapped a grainy picture with a crappy cell phone camera.
Alright, the picture looks like something out of Twister, but the billboard reads, "Ever had Leprosy? Thanks to medical research, you won't." So I did a little research and found a couple more.
Now I'm not here to weigh in on the appropriateness of animal testing, unless it's testing the best tasting barbecue sauce! ZING! What I want to talk about is the conversation.
I recently learned of a growing movement among actual scientists (not lobbyists or simply ignorant idiots) who are against the whole global warming hoopla. Now this is a comparatively small group, but a group nonetheless. And their main gripe is not that global warming isn't happening, their complaint is that scientists who propose evidence that man-made global warming is not destroying our environment--or at least not destroying it to the degree proposed by numerous studies--are essentially blacklisted.
Why? Because as they see it, global warming and what some refer to as the "Green Agenda" is a cash cow for the scientific community, and scientists who oppose the principles of global warming are hurting the scientific community's bottom line. How many projects and studies have been funded to research climate change and its effect on our environment? In a bad economy, this field of study has been keeping many scientists and labs in business. Carbon credits is another huge industry that has sprung up in the past five years. Some economists say it's poised to be the next big speculative market on Wall Street. Without the threat of global warming, this market doesn't even exist.
Now I'm all for preventing global warming. I was celebrating Earth Day when I was 10. Do you remember the 1990 Save the Planet: A CBS/Hard Rock Cafe Special hosted by Bobcat Goldthwait and Katey Segal, where Bobcat Goldthwait sang the Village People's YMCA to the the tune of U2's With or Without You? I do. And if you can find that clip somewhere, please send it to me. I lost my VHS of the show. Besides, you're stupid if you're not doing your part to not totally screw up the environment. I don't have a bar graph or anything, but really, what do you have to lose.
Now these less-than-happy-with-current-global-warming-views scientists may have their own agenda. Perhaps their non-global-warming-related projects aren't being funded because so much money is being invested in studies on climate change. But what I'm saying is these scientists at least deserve to be heard. Whether they're right or wrong, they deserve the opportunity to state their case. And in turn, animal researchers at least deserve to state their case as to why what they do is valid and useful to society, in scientific journals or on billboards. You don't have to agree with them. You can argue back with them. That's the way free speech works. Everyone has the opportunity to say their peace short of spray painting F*** Bank of America on the side of your house, so people on passing commuter trains can read your opinions on the international financial services company. If PETA can put naked protesters in a busy intersection, why can't scientists promote their message on a much more tasteful billboard.
The question then goes to ad agencies, do they want to work for these groups? With small to mid-sized agencies dropping right and left, you may feel your moral compass veering off magnetic north, and I think that's okay. If you vehemently disagree with a cause or if their message is in complete opposition with an important client, by all means, turn down the business. If your biggest client is Nicorette, you probably won't be doing much advertising for Lucky Strikes. But if you only kind of have an opinion on a subject, at least listen to the argument. And if you feel their voice at least deserves to be heard, whether you agree or disagree, do the work and cash the check.
Just because you make commercials for Pepsi, doesn't mean you don't like the taste of Coke. After all, Pepsi sucks. But that doesn't mean people shouldn't be given the option to decide which soda they like better. I'm not saying don't have a moral compass. I'm saying, your job is to help people get their message out. Then let the public decide which message they feel is right. Then there's the question of how good are you and how stupid is the public, but I'll leave that for another post.
Feel free to disagree. I know lots of people who hate me.
--George Convery, Copywriter