"Learning from the Profession we Love to Hate"

Apr 15, 2013 11:30 AM ET
Campaign: Design & Business

Cheryl Heller

Program Chair, MFA in Design for Social Innovation at SVA

first published in UNREASONABLE.is, March 20, 2013

One could argue that most of the problems we’re faced with solving at this moment in history have been either ignited or facilitated by advertising, through its promotion of greed, competition, instant gratification, insatiable consumption, unstoppable appetites for unhealthy food, fickleness and superficiality.

I would like to make the case that many of the skills and sensibilities that created this escalating need for too many things are the same ones we need to create a higher consciousness for humanity. This is not to suggest that marketing can be made to work in reverse or undo its damage – only that there is a methodology to advertising that has been proven to work for many of the challenges we’re busily trying to invent a way to solve – skills that are ignored – buried in the more obvious characteristics we detest about the profession.

It’s easy to hate advertising, and most of it deserves the disdain it induces. The creation of false needs and insecurities, blatant denial of the realities of global warming (you need a big car and should drive it fast through precious wetland ecosystems), collapse of seafood populations (tuna is the wonder food, eat all you can) over-consumption of everything, promotion of unhealthy eating habits (supersize that), pandering to the lowest common denominator of mean spirited humor, insulting portrayals of women dancing with their mops, a disposable product culture, insulting portrayals of men as moron couch-potatoes, fear-inducing germ paranoia leading to the consumption of toxic products, and let’s not even go there on Scott’s Lawn and Garden products.

Click here to continue reading

More from School of Visual Arts - Design for Social Innovation

MFA DSI Thesis Show 2017

AIGA Design Leader Interview Series

DSI Newsletter : February 2017

Social Design is the Future