Banksy is the world’s most famous street artist.
He’s known for his politically charged work.
The Art of Banksy exhibit recently opened in Chicago.
Whenever I go to shows, there’s one piece that speaks to me.
It was “Consumer Jesus” this evening.
The piece shows Jesus’ famous crucifixion image, but with shopping bags in his hands rather than nails.
Inside the bags are gifts, Mickey Mouse ears, and a bottle of high-end champagne.
Made with stencils and spray paint on a canvas, the piece suggests that consumerism has killed Jesus.
The image is powerful.
It made me think about advertising enabling consumerism.
And the double standard within many agencies.
Most agencies are quick to dismiss acquiring clients in categories like tobacco, pornography, firearms, and even oil & gas.
But there’s a double standard.
The agency that avoids tobacco wants an alcoholic beverage client.
Yet 14.5 million people suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, and 95K die from alcohol-related causes annually in the US.
The agency that avoids old & gas wants an automotive client (it doesn’t have to be Tesla).
I love the advertising and marketing industry.
Not all advertising is bad.
It can be highly beneficial to society.
Advertising can communicate important issues, products, and services.
It helps drive economic growth and innovation.
But before you take a stand for or against whatever issue hits the headlines.
Consider evaluating your clients and internal business practices first.
If you’re going to be a purpose-driven agency, you can’t cherry-pick issues and ignore others.
Like you, I have vices.
I believe in everything in moderation.
But you won’t find me speaking out both sides of my mouth.