Advertising is not fit to lick Charlie’s boots

(Pokerstars banned TV ad)

I have been concerned about the censorious nature in Britain for a while.  Today in some Orwellian nightmare Liberal intolerance is often  wrapped up as tolerance.  I hear passionate speeches of  “We will not tolerate despicable views in this country.” That isn’t tolerance folks that is intolerance.

It doesn’t mean you can’t dislike someones view – be it a comedy show, a political party, a TV ad or a book. You may feel you need to protest about it but censoring something and calling for material to be banned is another matter.

The answer is more open debate where people can say what they like when they like. Let’s get ideas out in the open. Let people say as they see fit and take responsibility for their ideas and we’ll judge them accordingly. And we’ll make our own minds up thank-you very fucking much.

Freedom of speech is about the very things you detest.  That is it purpose  You’re supposed to hate what some people think and say – what you’re not supposed to do is go running to censors every time you or worse still you feel others are offended.

I’ve noticed more and more how those calling for censorship do so others behalf. It is never them that is offended is it? They can handle the offensive views but think about the man on the Clapham Omnibus he can’t handle it they say.

Of course I am writing this piece in the light of the killing of 12 journalist at the Paris bases satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.  They were killed because they offended Islam mocking the prophet Muhammed regularly, including the reprinting of Danish cartoons in 2006 and hilariously once naming Muhammed as the editor in one issue.

However, this is a fairly easy one for most people in the West to agree with, in terms of protecting a publications right to freedom of speech. Largely because they agree, so it is no big shakes to them. Defending ideas you believe in is child’s play.

The empathising campaign has begun with Je Suis Charlie – a Spartacus style battle cry that is hard not to relate to. I personally hope Paris continues to stands tall and is able to live without fear and go about its business unaffected. Although this seems unlikely in the short-term, people are made of strong stuff.  As long as we keep our nerve, normal service will be resumed.

So as I see twitter alight with ‘Je Suis Charlie’ I think about how much freedom of speech, bravery and contrarian views exists in advertising today. The answer is not a lot.

In fact I don’t think advertising is fit to lick Charlie’s boots let alone say they are one.

Advertising is not fearless and brave today – it is timid, bland and full of servitude at the best of times.  I have not seen regular campaigning about the censorious rules and regulation dished out on advertising be it by the ASA, Of Com, The Portman Group and of course Clearcast. In fact advertising funds them – is there anything more ugly and condescending than self censorship?

If advertising was Charlie they would argue and debate more fearlessly with their censors not sign up to them.  They’d find better ways to make clients do brave creative work and when they self censor they’d fight back not nod and agree.

The more freedom we have the more creative we can be. Today advertising does not believe in freedom of speech, nor is it brave and it certainly is not Charlie.

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