I see this a lot:
- Something politically significant happens. A mass shooting. A controversial executive order. A lawmaker gets thrown into the spotlight for dubious behavior.
- Copywriters and art directors take to social media with their profound/salient/insightful/funny comments.
- Nothing much happens.
As copywriters and art directors, we have power to do a lot more. We’re in the business of persuading. We know how to communicate effectively. We have resources in media and technology the average citizen doesn’t. We use our talents and skills every day to help our clients. But rarely for the causes we really believe in.
Let me give you two dated, but still excellent examples of creatives who did more than tweet their opinions.
In 2008, when John McCain was running against Barack Obama, my friend Steve Yee did not like the idea of McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, being a heartbeat away from the presidency. So he and some friends created a simple site called palinaspresident.com to show their vision of what a Palin Administration would be like. It was simple and it was hilarious. Did it sway voters? Maybe. Who can say? But it was featured in Time and The Washington Post and Creativity and The Telegraph. Those are pretty big bullhorns for a cause you believe in.
In 2009, my friend, mentor, and first creative director, Kevin Lynch, didn’t like the idea of the Olympics coming to Chicago. And he knew most other Chicagoans agreed with him. So he created chicagoansforrio.com. Another simple, hilarious site. You can read more about it here and here. I remember Kevin telling me they launched the site sometime in the morning, and by lunch he was fielding calls from CNN.
So the next time you find yourself wishing you could make a difference, remember: You’re in advertising. Of course you can.