fine lines & immoral advertising

I worked, for a very short time, on a beer brand and before I got started I was asked if I had any moral issues with advertising for an alcoholic beverage. I said no there was no issue, feeling that the work that this brand did was not targeted at underage drinkers or encourage over-drinking.

Pretty much anything in life is harmful if taken to an extreme and so even for packaged goods or food items I try to make sure that the work that I do does not encourage excessive behavior, but rather preference for the brand I am working on over that of a competitor. A fine line, perhaps, but life is full of fine lines.

One line that I would never cross is working on a lottery account.

I say this not just because the advertising for the New York Lottery has been uniformly bad, if not simply insulting:

The plain fact is that lotteries are morally repugnant as they function as nothing more than a regressive tax. By that I mean that lotteries, whose proceeds go into government coffers to finance whatever bureaucratic boondoggle the half-wit mandarins in the state house have thought up and thus qualifies as a tax in my book, overwhelmingly take money out of the pockets of the poor.

That these lotteries do so with the promise of riches beyond the imagination and only in the tiniest of small print note that the odds of winning are smaller than an atom and that, because the payout is at a fixed sum unadjusted for inflation over twenty years and that you may have to split the total pot, that the amount advertised as available to win is incorrect (it is wildly overstated in terms of real value).

It is impossible that anyone other than government could get away without noting these facts in very large type.

Just imagine a drug company trying to sell a lottery…wait for it…that’s right, you can’t. Beyond the civic outrage, the government, of all entities, wouldn’t allow it. Unless it serves to finance said government. At the expense of the poor.

A lottery account is just one line I wouldn’t and couldn’t cross.


4 responses to “fine lines & immoral advertising

  1. Without going into morals, NY’s lottery advertising was once a creative beacon – the “Hey , You Never Know” campaign from DDB, which ran in the early 1990s, won just about every award in the book.

  2. I do love the “hey, you never know” line, though it is sadly employed to separate poor people from their money and give it to the government.

  3. Cigarettes are my lottery.

  4. @ bg – I would have an issue with cigarettes too, though they’re not really advertised anymore so I might just miss out on having to worry about it. I hope.

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