Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wobbily Painted Stones: Ethics.

I've been asked lots of times about whether there is anyone I wouldn't work for.

Well, there is, in theory. There are jobs I've declined - they include one for KFC (as a vegan this was unpalatable to me), one advertising cigarettes to a 'pre-choice' audience (in other words, directing underage as-yet-potential smokers toward their eventual brand choice), and one for a supermarket clothing company launching a range of padded bras to pre-teens. With those jobs, it's pretty clear why I chose not to do them.

But it isn't that simple. I've found that it's impossible to have a black-and-white rule. So we have a set of criteria and a process instead. This is our system, As something that's evolved over the years, I thought it would be helpful to share it.

1) Ask how strongly you feel about the client. For example, for me, McDonalds would be a no, under any circumstances and regardless of any fee. An organic butchers however I'd not have an issue with.
However, should McDonald's one day announce they were sourcing ALL of their meat products globally from 100% organic sources - that might be a campaign I'd jump on.

2) Then look at what they're asking you to do. If it is an ad campaign, promoting products which you yourself would never buy, and you feel that they are ethically and/or morally unsound for whatever reason, then your answer is likely to be no. If it's a repeat pattern for the staff's new uniforms, does that change how you feel about it?

3) Someone will get paid to do the job, whether it's you or someone else. If you take the job, how likely are you to take that money and feed it into 'healthy' or ethically/environmentally/morally sound and positive organisations or systems? For example, we are vegan and largely organic - thus we might consider that the fee money is 'laundered' because it will be spent on organic foods from tiny independant stores, and to our friends' little organic farm down the road, supporting and feeding their businesses. You may feel differently.

4) Are you happy for your creations to be associated with the brand? Things live for a long time on the web!

5) Finally, can you take the work you've done and use it to gain more work? If you do, are you likely to attract similar clients, thus creating potential for similar dilemmas? Is it something you would rather keep quiet afterwards? And if so, are you ready to make similar compromises in future?

The main rule we follow is that there can be no blanket rule - assess every job on its own merits, and you'll always come to the right decision.

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