On Purpose! Why Adland Should Be Proud Of Creating Real & Positive Change

On Purpose! Why Adland Should Be Proud Of Creating Real & Positive Change

In this guest post, Andrew North (main photo), creative director at Icon Agency says one of the great joys of working in advertising is being able to enact real and active change…

When it comes to what we do in this profession of ours, the answer is usually pretty simple.

(Although, in the increasingly media-diverse landscape that exists today, that answer is perhaps not quite as clear as it once was.)

We create content. The term ‘advertising’ feels somewhat outmoded these days, but by most people’s definitions, that’s still what it is. We take messages and information, we refine them into a version that will grab the attention of those we wish to grab, and we send it out to the world. Or at least, a more minutely targeted version of the world. But the question that’s worthy of deeper examination, is why we do it.

Sure, we all earn a decent living and are duly recognised for what we do, especially if we’re particularly good at it.

But our motivation has to be more than just remuneration and recognition. It may of course depend upon your perspective, and who you are, and what you’ve done so far in your life in this business.

No two motivations are the same.

But, for what it’s worth, I’d like to offer my own, personal perspective.

On purpose.

There is something wonderful to be said about doing work that creates real, positive change.

Behaviour change is not just limited to purposeful work. Getting someone to switch from buying Brand A to Brand B is changing their behaviour, in the same way that getting that same person to stop smoking is.

And once again, they are both perfectly valid goals.

But, there is something unmeasurably rewarding about creating change with a purpose.

To play even a small part in helping reduce the incidence of stillbirth in Australia is extraordinary.

To be able to help people who are completely lost in their attempts to find help for a loved one affected by problems with alcohol and drugs is a privilege.

To help those affected by mental illness to find some solace and comfort is worth getting out of bed for alone.

To promote the fact that having more women in senior leadership positions makes companies more profitable, is inspiring.

To talk openly about the very real dangers facing girls and young women who make up the ‘selfie generation’ is empowering, and so very important.

Working with a company that makes products for the outdoors in a fair and sustainable way, and asks that its customers leave the places they visit in at least the same way they found them, or at most, better, makes you feel as warm as the apparel they sell does.

Commerce and purpose are not mutually exclusive. There is nothing inherently evil about success. It’s the way that one achieves that success, and the outcomes it creates that makes the distinction.

Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with making work that sells more washing powder or chocolate bars. A healthy society relies in large part on a healthy economy. If you play a role in moving that dial in the right direction then all power to you.

In fact, there are highly regarded award shows around the world that reward you not just for your creativity, but for the results your work achieves. And the fact that creative people in particular see these as important, can only be a good thing.

Purpose is a powerful thing. A purpose is something that everyone should seek. Having one is essential to navigating an increasingly tricky world.

But, when purpose is your purpose, that opens up a whole new world entirely.


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