I Sold My Soul And I Love It — a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication.""/>

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Comments (42) Posted 02.05.07 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Adrian Shaughnessy

"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"



Creative Review cover, February 2007.

The current issue of Creative Review is "guest edited" by hip British advertising agency Mother. As is the way with "guest editors," Mother hasn't actually edited the magazine; instead, they've commandeered the cover, 29 pages in the center of the publication and a pile of inserts, to make an idiosyncratic examination of the ethics and morality of advertising. It's what you might call a sort of editorial intervention.

Mother approaches the subject with a knowing wink. As they note in their introduction: "Does the presence of money diminish our creativity? The Sistine Chapel was a commissioned work. Was Michelangelo less of an artist for taking the Vatican's money? Some would argue painting the Pope into a fresco is more noble then putting a Ford in your Bond movie. Some wouldn't. We're not here to decide. After all, 'We sold our soul and it feels great.'" Subscribers to Creative Review received advance warning of Mother's approach; the magazine was mailed in a brown envelope containing the crudely handwritten legend: your mother is a whore.


Introductory spread, Creative Review, February 2007.

Mother paid Creative Review's publishers £15,000 (about $29,500 by today's exchange rate) for the privilege of "editing" the February edition of the magazine. In his editorial, Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne explains Mother's involvement: "The content was arrived at after a series of meetings between ourselves and Mother and was developed in collaboration between us, with Creative Review retaining final editorial control. The theme, suggested by Mother, is I Sold My Soul And I Love It — a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication."

Mother can't be accused of using their editorial real estate for self-aggrandizement. They make no mention of their clients; they don't show their work; they don't list their awards; they tell us nothing about themselves. But how successfully do they analyze the question of ethics?

They oscillate between cool art-world detachment and a serious-minded desire to cut to the heart of the matter. Lurid visuals and Barbara Kruger-like sloganeering sit alongside interviews with British philosopher A.C. Grayling and designer Peter Saville, and an article by music writer Barney Hoskins on Tom Waits' famous battle with Frito-Lay. The visuals and sloganeering make the reader think s/he has strayed into a catalogue for a contemporary art show — a visual essay by artist Alison Jackson showing British ad guru Trevor Beattie having a "tissue meeting" with a Kim Il Sun look-a-like sets the tone. The texts offer more substance.


Spread with photograph of Peter Saville, Creative Review, February 2007.

A.C. Grayling is a popular philosopher: almost a household name in Britain, he appears on TV and in newspapers. When asked by Mother if it is possible to work in advertising and be an ethical person he takes a pragmatic line: "Given...that any reasonably intelligent human being is going to know that [advertising] is a tendentious message, then advertising is a perfectly straightforward and useful service. So, yes of course it is possible to work in advertising and be an ethical person just as it is possible for the whole advertising industry to be so."

Grayling is asked if designers who work for cultural organizations and charities do more good that designers who work for multinational corporations. The philosopher notes: "This goes back to the long-standing tradition that money equals bad, no money equals good. We've moved beyond that in a way. Even those on the left politically recognize that we have got to create wealth and it is wrong to downgrade those involved in that. It is really a question of individual choices and attitudes. It would be wonderful to work for a small art gallery with all the satisfaction that must bring, even if it brings no money, and you have to admire those who forfeit benefits because they believe in something, but I reject the idea that they have the moral high ground."

It's not often that we get the benefit of a thinker of Grayling's stature commenting on design and advertising. His laissez-faire approach seems to correspond to Mother's cavalier attitude on the question of ethics in advertising, and would doubtless disappoint hardliners and outright anti-capitalists. Both Grayling and Mother seem to acknowledge the fundamental impossibility of developing an unequivocally ethical approach to advertising and design. They seem to be saying that since the two professions are so deeply embedded in the commercial fabric of society, we have no choice but to negotiate a rapprochement. Grayling occasionally sounds like an apologist for advertising: "You've got to recognize the responsibility on the other side," he urges. "The idea that the great unwashed are just a herd who will do whatever Machiavellian advertisers want them to do is nonsense. The reason that the advertising industry needs to be skilful in the way it communicates its message is because the masses are so obdurate, they are resistant to these messages."

For their part, Mother point us to a rather unexpected source: The Vatican. Here, we find an ethical code that wouldn't be out of place in a copy of Adbusters. Under the title "What God Says" appears a list of 10 points which amount to a sort of Pontifical code-of-conduct for advertising. The list, as it appears in Creative Review, is a heavily-edited selection from a lengthy text called Ethics in Advertising.


THE VATICAN: ETHICS IN ADVERTISING

1. ADVERTISERS ARE MORALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT THEY SEEK TO MOVE PEOPLE TO DO.

2. IT IS MORALLY WRONG TO USE MAINPULATIVE. EXPLOITATIVE, CORRUPT AND CORRUPTING METHODS OF PERSUASION AND MOTIVATION.

3. THE CONTENT OF COMMUNICATION SHOULD BE COMMUNICATED HONESTLY AND PROPERLY.

4. ADVERTISING MAY NOT DELIBERATELY SEEK TO DECIEVE, BY WHAT IT SAYS, WHAT IT IMPLIES OR WHAT IT FAILS TO SAY.

5. ABUSE OF ADVERTISING CAN VIOLATE THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON, APPEALING TO LUST, VANITY, ENVY AND GREED.

6. ADVERTISING TO CHILDREN BY EXPLOITING THEIR CREDULITY AND SUGGESTIBILITY OFFENDS AGAINST THE DIGNITY AND RIGHTS OF BOTH CHILDREN AND PARENTS.

7. ADVERTISING THAT REDUCES HUMAN PROGRESS TO ACQUIRING MATERIAL GOODS AND CULTIVATING A LAVISH LIFESTYLE IS HARMFUL TO INDIVIDUALS AND SOCIETY ALIKE.

8. CLIENTS WHO COMMISSION WORK CAN CREATE POWERFUL INDUCEMENTS TO UNETHICAL BEHAVIOUR.

9. POLITICAL ADVERTISING IS AN APPROPRIATE AREA FOR REGULATION: HOW MUCH MONEY MAT BE SPENT, HOW AND FROM WHOM MONEY MAY BE RAISED.

10. ADVERTISERS SHOULD UNDERTAKE TO REPAIR THE HARM DONE BY ADVERTISING.


Source: Ethics in Advertising, a report by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 1997.
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Comments (42)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT >>

"A.C. Grayling is a popular philosopher: almost a household name in Britain, he appears on TV and in newspapers."

Not wishing to be too pedantic, but: no. By the extremely low standards of British philosophers, he may qualify as 'well-known', but 'household name'? Not even almost.
Harry
02.05.07 at 03:49

i know its easy to knock a project like this , but i was really dissapointed by this issue of creative review. it promised so much, the best ad agency in london with enough space do something really interesting. but all we got was substandard student magazine design, a teenage 'is money bad?' logic, substandard tibor knock-offs, and sense that mother can only produce great work if they're being paid to, and becomes rather unstuck when they have to invent their own agenda. the only redeemable feature was Peter Savilles 'no protsitutes' sticker which had more power in its black and white simplicity than the entire mother effort.
as for the soul selling/is advertising bad debate who really cares anymore? shaungnessy's lack of conclusion says it all . there are no right and wrong answers. some work for money, some work for love. those than get well paid for their efforts can develop an anxiety at their successes and try to ethically redress the balance. others dont. others wish they were in that position. others are glad their not.
most do bit of work, some good, some less so, enjoy the people they work with, and are glad to go home at the end of their day, eat a meal with those they love, watch a bit of tv, read a book, listen some music and sleep safe in the knowledge that they'll do it all again tomorrow.

Richard
02.05.07 at 05:34

Funny!

On the back of a card for an ad club ( circa 1989 ) there were funny client put-downs. One of them was "This ain't the Sistine Chapel kid." Ha!

One more: A sign I saw in a tavern (Chez Charlie's) that said "If it's not one thing -- It's your Mother!"

Good stuff, Mr. Shaughnessy!

VR/

Joe Moran
02.05.07 at 06:39

IMHO, to borrow from the current vernacular, this post-modern self-referrential BS is, like, so 1900's.

You know what would have been more interesting and creative?

Anything!

The reason that the advertising industry needs to be skilful in the way it communicates its message is because the masses are so obdurate, they are resistant to these messages.

Mind like a steel trap, that Grayling!

The visuals and sloganeering make the reader think s/he has strayed into a catalogue for a contemporary art show

Oh, the confusion, the ennui, the post-millenial detachment! Please!

Word to CR - Guests and fish have one thing in common. Both begin to stink after a few days.
Mr. One-Hundred
02.05.07 at 06:53

Adrian's piece made me think of millionaires using their financial heft to secure excursion passes on space shuttles: is editorial direction now the domain of those who can afford it, regardless of merit?
jessica helfand
02.05.07 at 08:06

Personally I thought this issue of Creative Review was one of the most interesting and exciting for a long time - I was getting a bit bored with reading about awards... it was a refreshing change to have some debat going on in CR!

(I'm a student on an ethical advertising and design course though - so what would I know?)
Anthony Ruck
02.05.07 at 08:06

"all we got was substandard student magazine design"

(all I got was the typical student put-down)
Anthony Ruck
02.05.07 at 08:11

One may quibble with the idea that working for a multinational corporation is about the creation of wealth or merely its transfer, or that working for an art gallery is not somehow about the creation of wealth, but the question put to Grayling and his answer, unfortunately, only perpetuates a rather simplistic understanding of the non-profit and for-profit design realms. Both systems are awash in cash, albiet at different scales, even if designers don't see much of it. Ultimately it is for many designers a question of the kind of content they want to work with, not whether they will be receiving a halo in some sort of afterlife. Speaking of which, who knew the Vatican would have such a code, although they've certainly had many centuries to refine and reflect on their own messages.
Andrew Blauvelt
02.05.07 at 11:08

The fact that people world wide are expressing opinions and talking about it means the concept has worked for CR - no matter what you think of the issue.
Marcus
02.06.07 at 07:44

i sold my soul and I loved it but when they asked for my brain i became insular and my body of work wasn't good enough.
nancy
02.06.07 at 05:15

I applaud Mother for admitting they paid for the coverage and their involvement. If I was a client or a member of their staff, I'd wonder why they didn't have anything better to spend their money on.

I applaud CR for allowing them to do it. But why was it necessary? Short in editorial content? Contributors on holiday? A slow month for news?

The end result is unsatisfying. Mother took on this debate, and paid to positioning themselves as the guardians of its legitimacy. I don't feel they answered their own question, nor helped anyone else to do so.
Toby
02.06.07 at 05:43

The fact that people world wide are expressing opinions and talking about it means the concept has worked for CR - no matter what you think of the issue.

I have to disagree. The idea, these days that publicity is the end, rather than the means, or that fame is the goal rather than a side-effect, is frankly nauseating and a bit of a cop-out. It's a bit like saying that the Watergate tapes were a success for the Nixon administration because they really got people talking.

As covered in an Richard's comment "as for the soul selling/is advertising bad debate who really cares anymore?". The "debate" is hardly new - you can wade in to it on any of a dozen or more blogs any day of the year. And to present it in such a spectacularly benign and mediocre fashion just ads more to the general background noise of this kind of style-(or lack of)-over-substance mentallity.

Next time Mother wants to waste that much money, I hope they drop me a line.

Mr. One-Hundred
02.06.07 at 06:08

wow, what a bunch of blowhards. the very idea that anybody gives a rat's ass about "design ethics" is bad enough- the fact that they were pompous enough to spend 29 pages yapping about it is worse.

you want to save the world? join the peace corps. design is just a job like any other, get off your high horses.
user@host.com
02.06.07 at 06:35

"Mother paid £15,000 to edit this Edition" the front cover says it all. The fact is they didn't. They paid £15K to contribute - note that "CR retained final editorial control". What's interesting here is Mother's innate ability to get down to telling lies or at least manipulating the truth. It's what advertising does, and what Mother does exceptionally well. It makes things sound better than they are. That's when the tricks and skill of advertising is at its very best. Its visual rhetoric, there's nothing new here!

In user@host.com comment: "the very idea that anybody gives a rat's ass about "design ethics" is bad enough"...

The fact is they do pal, it's just they're looking in the wrong places. Design is a job you're right, but the job is changing and so is its philosophical framework. CR's half edited by Mother is a 'no-brainer' really, so for now you're right, look somewhere else if you want ethics.

What about an old fashioned design ethic, the one about making things better? In this case you (the designer) decides how philosophical you want to go.

CR missed the point doesn't it? Either make an edition about 'ethics' in design and 'review' some creative work that is driven by this, or, make an exciting issue that is actually edited by an ad company; totally though not half-arsed!
Matthew Galvin
02.06.07 at 08:37

"Mother paid £15,000 to edit this Edition" the front cover says it all. The fact is they didn't. They paid £15K to contribute - note that "CR retained final editorial control".

Exactly. I'm surprised that no one has commented on the editorial ethics that were breached to allow someone to pay to place content of any kind in a publication, no matter how many meetings were held or if CR had final editorial control.

"Mother can't be accused of using their editorial real estate for self-aggrandizement. They make no mention of their clients; they don't show their work; they don't list their awards; they tell us nothing about themselves."

This is simply naive. They paid and received credit for creating their media moment. Mother may I?

"Does the presence of money diminish our creativity?" Mother asks.

Apparently it only diminishes the editorial ethics of Creative Review.
Andrew Blauvelt
02.06.07 at 11:36

Another slightly dissapointing aspect to this is that WHSmith (big newsagent over in UK) have objected to the phrase 'your mother is a whore', which is handwritten on the brown paper wrapper that this issue of CR comes in. This 'event' has been posted on a few design blogs, with a hint of ''ooh isnt this challenging and naughty and exciting".
i guess one conclusion that can be drawn from this is that crude, semi-offensive, beavis and butthead humour can still capture the attention, and that the design community are easily sucker-punched into finding such work challenging and interesting enough to spend time disecting it...ohh er....guess that includes me....
oh and to anthony ruck.. indeed..what would you know? an entire course on ethics and advertising? surely after one glance at this creative review all you need to fully understand this area is covered. consider youself qualified to enter the world of advertising confident in your complete mastery of the subject matter.
Richard
02.07.07 at 07:02

Mother can't be accused of using their editorial real estate for self-aggrandizement. They make no mention of their clients; they don't show their work; they don't list their awards; they tell us nothing about themselves. But how successfully do they analyze the question of ethics?

I think they named that Viral marketing or something.

The your mother is a whore brings to mind the old Lampoon cover, "Buy our magazine or we will shoot this dog." With a sad photo of a dog.
That was a great cover.
Flaherty
02.07.07 at 08:17

I liked the Vatican counsels (and if only they could confine themselves to areas of social policy where they have something so intelligent to say!) but the whole debate about 'ethics' in advertising and design has become soooooooooo stale.

Are people still asking banal questions like 'is it ethical to make money from advertising?' The politics of the world has changed beyond recognition since the 1980s. And perhaps someone should tell the advertising creatives. Issues like climate change, consumer debt, the sexualisation of children, obesity and anorexia ask profound ethical questions for this industry, but is anyone taking them seriously?

But maybe I'm the one who is being naive. Perhaps taking a truly pointless, worn-out and obviously flawed argument and putting it to a celebrity philosopher to chew over (and what was Grayling paid, for this bit of shameless 'celebrity endorsement', I wonder?) is precisely a way of deflecting attention away from the real issues. Like what was the carbon footprint of Mother's little splurge of self-indulgent promotion? A lot more than the £15k they paid to Creative Review, I'll bet. And if they are such an ethically minded agency, couldn't they have published all this stuff on the web and saved all that paper, printing, transportation and land-fill?
James Souttar
02.07.07 at 08:22

CR + Mother contribution is very disappointing, but predictable, coming from an ad agency. Ad agencies are always justifying the money spending and tuning a very valuable discussion down.

Visual communication CAN help, and is in desperately need of discussion, but I am amazed at the cynicism of CR's February edition on brushing everything aside to say: we are all hypocrites and we all have mortgages to pay.

Why bother when reality is not invading YOUR window?
Pablito
02.07.07 at 09:19

Adrian's piece made me think of millionaires using their financial heft to secure excursion passes on space shuttles: is editorial direction now the domain of those who can afford it, regardless of merit?

Editorial direction has been the domain of those who can afford it for years. Although it seems that the quiet consolidation of independent newspapers, magazines, and television stations is no longer chic. One must now shout to the Heavens about how the world should be; in effect saying, "Look what those Bastards did! We're not like them. We know the world is a difficult place to understand, so we've processed it in small, easily digestible bits and will now spoon feed it to you. So relax. Take a load off in your Sleep Number bed, watch some Grey's Anatomy, and have an ice cold Budweiser Select."

I can't wait for the Rupert Murdoch edition of Time. I'm sure it will be hard hitting. At least with a strong right.

Smarmy of me? Yes. Off target? Not one bit.
James D. Nesbitt
02.07.07 at 12:58

I think this article was more interesting than the magazine. At least in the sense that people can offer their perspectives and engage in something resembling a conversation.

I know a few people, but certainly not the majority, who got into advertising because they actually like doing it. They like the game, the clients, the challenge, whatever--hell, *I* like all of that stuff. The reality is, most people don't enter the industry because of that, and they probably don't create work with the intention of "creating wealth" or taking part in the global economy. They get into it to make cool stuff.

Which is fine, up until the point they start apologizing for it, justifying it, or looking for some sort of moral salvation and security. Typically, if you wonder if your behavior is "ethical," it likely is not. Agencies allow themselves to be defined by too many external forces, be they the demands of paying clients or the opinions of other ad people. And they won't find any meaningful reassurance in any of those things. My apologies for sounding cliched, but you can only find security within yourself.

Additionally, it should come as no surprise that there's more and more consumer-generated work--agencies have become so lost in their insular world of web sites, blogs and magazines that only they read. As was stated earlier, "nobody cares."
Brad Gutting
02.07.07 at 03:03

It's not often that we get the benefit of a thinker of Grayling's stature commenting on design and advertising.

I hope that's meant to be ironic. This is the second time that design and/or advertising have felt the public need to consult the great man (and indefatigable talking head) to clarify everything for us. The printed results in CR are jaw-droppingly simplistic, ill-informed about the nature of design practice in particular, and unhelpful.

There is really no point in endlessly rehashing the ethical question unless participants in the discussion are prepared to make some kind of clear stand one way or the other:

(a) Everything is fine, nothing I can do about it anyway, so I'll carry on in the same way. (The supposedly more sophisticated "shades of grey/gray" response is really just a gutless or perhaps merely a not very self-aware way of saying this.)

(b) No, things are not OK and I'll adjust my position accordingly in both my stance and practice as a communicator.

What a tonic it would be to hear a little more of (b) once in a while.
Rick Poynor
02.07.07 at 04:17

The fact that people world wide are expressing opinions and talking about it means the concept has worked for CR - no matter what you think of the issue.

I have to disagree. The idea, these days that publicity is the end, rather than the means, or that fame is the goal rather than a side-effect, is frankly nauseating and a bit of a cop-out. It's a bit like saying that the Watergate tapes were a success for the Nixon administration because they really got people talking.


There was no mention about what I thought of the issue - simply the fact that a magazine and an agency set out to mutually benefit through an editorial collaboration. Magazines have done it for years using guest art directors and guest editors to raise the profile of a title and at the same time the agency/editor/designer. Was the issue good? I'll hold my opinion on that. Did the concept work for both parties? Well you've read this far and seen how much discussion it has created so you'd be safe in saying yes. Loved or hated - but never forgotten.
Marcus
02.07.07 at 07:18

Brad, you make a very good point. When you say: 'typically, if you wonder if your behavior is "ethical," it likely is not', I think you have put your finger on the issue here. 29 pages of Creative Review are taken up with 'compensation' - angsty advertising creatives trying to show that they are being ethical because, deep down, they know perfectly well they are not. ( "I Sold My Soul And I Love It" - "Oh yeah? So why are you making such a fucking big deal about it then?")

My sense - as somebody whose contact with advertising people is only tangential - is that it seems a much sleazier industry than those of many of its clients. I remember ten years or so ago discussing the Ken Saro Wiwa case with my clients at Shell. They had few hesitations admitting to me that they were uncomfortable with what the company had done, and with the way it was being handled. And another client, then at Abbey National, had left Shell because he was didn't want to be associated with an organisation that could behave like this. I never heard anyone within advertising expressing the slightes qualm, however.

And I have to say I feel so much more comfortable having conversations about ethics with people within large organisations than I do reading the creepy ethical-flavoured self-promotion that trendy British advertising agencies do to appease their consciences (St Luke's bizarre 'Sensorama' also comes to mind here).

To convince the world that they are serious about being good corporate citizens, agencies need to learn:

a) to turn down accounts that compromise basic ethical principles;

b) engage seriously with the problems that are created by irresponsible advertising - particularly to children;

c) start being pro-active in creating positive role-models, endorsing necessary changes in behaviour and affirming human dignity;

d) educating clients about the importance of socially responsible practices.

If we take a single issue - size zero (or double zero) models - we can see how a responsible agency would refuse to work with fashion chains that insist on using women with dangerously low body mass index, would engage in the debate about the subject offering solutions and alternatives, would recommend a more appropriate image to their clients in the fashion business and would explain to them (if anybody still doesn't get it) why this is both important and also, in the longer term, better for business.

But I don't see anything like this happening - from 'Mother' or anyone else.
James Souttar
02.07.07 at 07:26

Loved or hated - but never forgotten.

Precisely my point! I don't like the fact that forgotten/not forgotten is more important than the ethical debate that the 'Mother' issue purportedly raised, nor do I like the idea of style over substance, quantity over quality, louder over better, which seems to pervade our culture. That's just my opinion. I wasn't assuming any opinion of yours either way.
Mr. One-Hundred
02.07.07 at 08:50

I don't like the entire use of Mother in this campaign. Is this some kind of subliminal use of words to affect meaning and symbol. What happenined to the days when mother was another word for Love instead of a word for activism. Mothers weren't proud of the fact to get press for having balls. Mothers were proud of the fact that they could survive on burnt toast and love, which actually took heart within their bosom.

I know one thing. I tried it for years. So many give you lip service or press service for doing the greater good. In the end, the world is still a very lonely place. When it's time to make the harder decisions of love and service for other living creatures, the echo is very, very week. Someone better tell the Greeks to write a new epic tale with a better ending.
mom
02.08.07 at 02:59

I may be over simplifying this, or perhaps just looking at it from another angle, but CR conceived this whole debate of money vs. ethics with a knowing wink.

Take a look at this page on the E-CR blog and you can see that the shortcoming, if you can call them that' of the magazine were wholly intentional.

The idea that money = below par work was shown through not only opening the magazine up to a guest 'editor', but also selling pages to the general public. Would the normally high standards of the magazine be upheld when they, essentially, whored themselves for cash. They are well aware it was a risky gamble, toying with ethics and the communities' backlash, but I get the sense that the underlying motive of the issue was to encourage this kind of dialogue.

Perhaps in a way it would show that money paid by creative to mess around outside their field of expertise would expose their shortcomings when the money was their primary motive.
Kieren Messenger
02.08.07 at 05:13

To the commenter who denigrated Andrew Ruck's interest in ethics and advertising after taking one course—the time and effort spent on diligently attending and working toward one course on ethics is more than a lot of people do.
I agree with what James Souttar wrote. I do think ethical questions are important, for advertising and all industries. I haven't read the CR piece so I don't know whether it was treated well. I have never worked in advertising, but I try to ask myself before entering jobs or before performing tasks whether they are ethical. I don't think it is a question that can be answered for an entire industry once and for all. But advertising, which has changed so much so quickly, needs to reflect on these questions.
Liz Wuerker
02.08.07 at 05:20

Creative Review magazine is an absolutely appropriate place to discuss the prostitution. They sold their soul to sponsors a long ago, and their editorial choices depend on which one gave them more money.
Boris
02.08.07 at 09:08

I agree with Kieren Messenger's last point.

I got the impression that Mother were just using an ethical debate as some sort of bizarre self promotion. Why else would you pay £15,000 to directly reach the eyeballs of the industry you work in? Unfortunately, because they didn't have anything to sell, the idea was half baked and left for the actual editors to make digestible.
Mat
02.08.07 at 09:40

is anyone sure that mother actually paid this money, and that the whole thing isn't a joke?

i was working at a studio in 2005, and CR gave them the cover to design in conjunction with a feature they ran on the studio.
frank
02.08.07 at 01:01

CR, PR, and MR.,

trite and overused, however still often in effect:

you dont fool with mother, naturally or marginally.
nancy
02.08.07 at 02:30

The fact that people world wide are expressing opinions and talking about it means the concept has worked for CR - no matter what you think of the issue.


I have to disagree. The idea, these days that publicity is the end, rather than the means, or that fame is the goal rather than a side-effect, is frankly nauseating and a bit of a cop-out. It's a bit like saying that the Watergate tapes were a success for the Nixon administration because they really got people talking.


You're missing a nuance to the "Publicity is the point" concept. The purpose of publicity is to increase you power either economically or in absolute terms via increased popular awareness.

In the case of watergate, Nixon was already the most powerful man in the world. He could have done better by laying low.

But seriously, considering their history and current philosophy, has anyone else here noticed the irony in the Vatican having an ethical code about communication?

mysexandviolence.com

M
02.09.07 at 01:52

I salute Mother for the balls they had to write "your mother is a whore" on the cover. A bit over the top and "look-at-me-i-am-so-cool" but still bold, eh?
Premjit
02.12.07 at 04:35

I haven't seen the issue of CR, but IMHO most ethics-themed mag issues tend to be dry as stale toast - oh look, we used recycled paper on this pro-bono piece we did for the non-profit. So maybe a different type of ethics discussion (via actions) is not a bad thing. Ethics is the decision, not the end product.

Perhaps we are also getting 'ethics' confused with 'morals' - ethics implies adherence to a 'code of fair and honest behaviour, particularly in a business or profession' versus morals, which 'refers to generally accepted standards of goodness and rightness in character and conduct.'

Ethics have been debated and discussed to death (not that they aren't necessary and worthy of discussion); there are several lists you can follow (AIGA, GDC, etc. etc., and now the Vatican) - whether or not you follow them, well, that would depend on your morals...
Christina W
02.13.07 at 10:38

is it still tongue in cheek if it belong to a model photographed in a lighting studio for an edgy new brand of cereal flakes?
what's it called when you try so hard to put said tongue in cheek that you rip your face off?

'Does the presence of money diminish our creativity? The Sistine Chapel was a commissioned work.'
i mean, oh irrelevant brother; what a squeeky wheel.
jeskek
02.15.07 at 03:31

How much banter can this profession exude within such a myopic perspective? CR allowed the debate to start with an act of blatant cynicism that is inherently irresponsible for a magazine of its stature considering the general state of affairs.... The fact of the matter is that scientists are telling us that we are about to consume ourselves in into oblivion - quite soon in historical terms. If advertising people do not feel responsible for fuelling the consumer goods delirium they have fallen for there own lies. They clearly cannot be trusted with matters of ethics. This is not just an academic debate. If we cannot come up with more ethical ways of conducting our affairs we are really about to consume ourselves out of existence. If some of you think this debate is immaterial just move out of the way and let people who want to move the agenda forward in a sustainable way have a voice. Admittedly I have not seen this issue of CR yet, but from the sounds of it is not worth my while. It is a disgrace to the industry to have such a shame debate on such a vital topic in a leading magazine.
jody
02.15.07 at 07:55

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the issue of Might from several years ago (before they went under) -- "Might Sells Out" -- with a wonderful parody of the celebrity milk-mustache ads of the time (although with a model drinking Goldschlagger). Each page was sponsored by a different company. It was both brilliant parody, on the for-proft nature of publishing, the farcical nature of editorial objectivity, and the loosing battle of being an independent magazine. At the same time, there were serious articles about ethics. Might is perhaps forgotten, but if you can find it (I keep my set in plastic), you won't forget it. Although perhaps it so defined my 20s, that my own objectivity has been lost.
DC1974
02.16.07 at 05:24

Whether Mother actually paid 15k is moot, the over-riding sensation I felt when ripping over the package was 'oh, is that it?' Sure they could have done more with the ethics question, but as a lot people here have already pointed out, this subject is nothing new and if anything a rather simple view of the world.

They struck me as a group with absolutely nothing original to say. I mean what an opportunity! Twenty-nine pages of a respected industry magazine. What did they deliver? A really poor Adbusters rip off on the outside back cover, a limp editorial on ethics and a shoddy photo story about branding war.

Why should we care about Mother? What do they believe in? Why should we think they are 'the best agency in London'? - All these questions went unanswered.

I still remember their Tamiya model kit pastiche of football hooligans they produced and that must be ten years ago. I doubt I will remember this in a decade's time.

Having said that, the sticker was fun and I have applied to my fridge to ward off bacteria.
antigob
02.19.07 at 08:31

The article revolves around the "guest editor" of the Creative Review in their February 2007 issue. It goes on to say that the advertising agency Mother, created the cover with the idea, "Does the presence of money diminish our creativity?" The packaging of the particular issue was carefully assembled as the magazine was even mailed in a brown envelope. The strategy that Mother used stirred up many ideas with in the area of what is ethical and what is not. A.C. Grayling, a popular philosopher, stated that it was possible for advertising to be ethical. Grayling also stated that "advertising industry need to be skillful in the way it communicates." Lastly, The Vatican: Ethics in Advertising is made reference as the source of Mother's strategy.

I found the article very informative and quite interesting. I was very intrigued with the idea behind the Mother's rational "does the presence of money diminish our creativity." I believed that while it might not diminish it, it might control it, for example a designer rather than creating something unique, has to create something for the client. It is to my belief that advertising is ethical, as long as people can understand that the basic premise of advertising is to sell, or promote something by any means. I agree with Grayling and Mother's acknowledgement that there is an "impossibility of developing ethical approach to advertising and design. Over all, the article "I Sold My Soul And I Love It" brought good points about money and design. I think the most creative designers will be able to use the money to their advantage while others drown in their own work by been overwhelm by the clients.
Martin Esqueda
03.21.07 at 01:07

I will not buy the Creative review again.
I found the whole issue as a big populist ethics-my arse, sell-out boring and poorly designed effort.
Not all of us are ready to sell our mother for a never-ending consumption of everything.
Designers are not prostitutes; we should address these issues amongst ourselves rather than take lessons on ethics by a patronising Mother.



Mary
04.03.07 at 09:02

Just got an e-mail about a new design site called Vista Design. Looks very high end but well put together. Love Nilufar's stuff.
designfreak
04.03.07 at 11:07


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Adrian Shaughnessy is a graphic designer and writer based in London. In 1989 he co-founded the design company Intro. Today he runs ShaughnessyWorks, a consultancy combining design and editorial direction. He is a founding partner in Unit Editions, a publishing company producing books on design and visual culture.
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