The post-Yom Kippur, financial meltdown, possible End Times Remorse-fest

I am feeling remorseful.

Yom Kippur stirred things up, and then the disappearance of 30% of my life savings whipped it into a froth. Did I, in my own small way, help bring about this calamity by prodding people to buy things they didn’t need or couldn’t afford? And now, will I become more compliant about unreasonable client demands in my newly hobbled financial state? Can I afford to be principled? What does being principled in the ad business mean anyway?

For those of you wondering similar things, or who just like taking stupid self-diagnostic tests, here’s the First Annual Advertising Morality Gut Check Test. For each situation posed, ask yourself what you’d do, then rate your response on this scale:

1. What’s the problem?
2. I’d do it, but I’d have misgivings.

3. Only if you put a gun to my head.
4. I’d quit first.

There are no right answers, but if you keep answering (1) to everything, you obviously have the morals of an iguana. And if you keep answering (4) you’re either a Trustafarian or only 22. For the rest of us, most of the time, things are uncomfortably somewhere in the middle.


First Annual Advertising Morality Gut Check Test

For each situation, rate your answer from 1 thru 4 using this scale:

1. What’s the problem?
2. I’d do it, but I’d have misgivings.
3. Only if you put a gun to my head.
4. I’d quit first.


Using a parity claim like “No other brand gives you more” when you know people often take this as meaning superiority.

Selling a product that’s harmful to the environment, e.g., non-recyclable, containing harmful chemicals, using high amounts of fossil fuel.

Working on a casino or horse-racing account.

Working on a liquor account.

You’ve been asked by the client to get some “younger thinking” on his business than the two early-50s creatives who now work on it.

Working on a tanning-bed account.

Working on a tobacco account, including cigars.

You have the opportunity to pitch a piece of Wal-Mart business. You detest Wal-Mart for its refusal to sell birth control but willingness to sell guns.

Using fear or doubt as a selling tool.

Using sex as a selling tool.

Persuading people to use a brand you believe is inferior to the brand you use at home.

Your client is ready to spend a significant amount of money to launch a new product. The launch effort would represent a nice piece of revenue for your shop. You believe the product has no chance of succeeding.

Persuading people to ask for an expensive brand-name Rx drug when the cheap generic works just as well.

Working on Capitol One or similar accounts that promote easy credit.

A campaign on behalf of the coal industry.

A campaign on behalf of the mortgage-broker’s association.

A campaign about the health benefits of red meat from the National Beef Council.

You’ve been asked to pitch a sugary kid’s cereal. It would be a huge win for your shop. You have an overweight child at risk of developing diabetes.


It wasn’t me! It was the focus group!

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