Back in 2011, I wrote a blog post called: “Why We Don’t Do Porn”. It is now 2016, and while I am not reassessing my moral positioning on a given matter, or practicing relativism, I am looking at business realities. Then and now, as the agency president/owner, I am the titular head of new business and responsible for bringing in revenue for a small advertising agency. Quite honestly, the competition has an edge – pragmatism.
I say pragmatism because when one takes an unequivocal stance as to what they will and will not do, they are not taking into consideration the fact that the world is not made of black and white, but is a series of gray gradations. It determines our moral precepts and presumptions. A stance based on ‘moral’ grounds is admirable. Echoing Dr. Martin Luther King and several others, a person that this does not stand for something, will fall for anything. Here is the problem. It is also painting one’s self into a corner.
By the very nature of owning a business, I am a capitalist. In most respects I am laissez-faire. I believe too much government regulation is nothing more than interference with what I’m doing for my family. Still, I am an advocate of fair and equal wages irrespective of gender, and endeavor to pay them. I hope most businesses understand child labor, anti-discrimination laws, and workplace safety are the unquestioned law of the land. If you resist them, you’re an idiot.
The workplace should be as comfortable, and welcoming as a person’s home. Feeling this way doesn’t make me nobler than anyone else. It’s a recognition common sense should be a constant presence in all that we do.
When I wrote that blog post in 2011, it reflected my feelings. I haven’t necessarily changed, but as I said I’m a capitalist, my business is supposed to make money. Our society has changed and every evolves. America has become a place I no longer recognize. The marijuana business has become a growth industry. What should my stance be – ignore it? That’s one approach. But for an agency that may mean not pursuing a potentially profitable account.
And, what about e- cigarettes — should I just pursue pitching those companies that claim to only use herbal products? What about the pharmaceutical industry? What if a pro-abortion group wanted to promote an event related to women health issues? Should I let my pro-life stance interfere with providing advertising or some form of promotional marketing for them? And what about politicians? Some do lie — few tell the truth — but will if the gun is aimed between the eyes. I have to question whether or not I should help promote one of them.
Here’s my honest opinion. We live in a place called the “Big Picture.” That is simply defining ourselves as moral beings that recognize that there is a greater good and a higher power. Universal morality comes knowing these things. Still, if presented with something that is unpopular or controversial, payroll considerations will factor in the decision. Does that mean CDM Digital Advertising will provide marketing for PornHub, ‘adult’ products or a girlie magazine? I can only say that caring about the whole human being will factor into it. If a product or organization is hell-bent on degrading people, to them I say, try the creative outfit up the block.
Bernard Alexander McNealy, President
CDM Digital Advertising