Socially Minded: Ethical Awareness and the Creative Advertising Student
Creativity can be a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. Advertising often comes under fire for encouraging conspicuous consumption and establishing unattainable desires among consumers. Worst, advertising is accused of hoodwinking innocent consumers into spending money they haven’t got on things they don’t need. Yet we persevere, crafting campaigns that are fun to interact with and building brands that resonate emotionally with consumers. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes. Students are generally attracted to careers in advertising by the commercials they see on TV, shared on YouTube, by the brands that they engage with and that have become a big part of who they are as consumers. They don’t often follow a path into the ad industry because they want to make the world a better place. Ironically, our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good. It is our responsibility as educators to actively enable our students to explore ways where the power of creativity can be harnessed for ethically directed communications. This case study will focus on examples from the advertising program at San Jose State University where students actively engage and work on briefs set by non-profits, environmental and community engagement organizations. By engaging with live clients with real problems to solve, students on this program learn by doing, they meet in their studio, an experiential learning suite designed on the lines of an advertising agency. They work in agency and/or creative teams and learn about issues affecting urban neighborhoods (gun violence, teen pregnancy, drug abuse), the environment (inland creeks and rivers, the Pacific coast), and human rights. The program offers them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them. They hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.
Delacruz, J. (2017). Socially minded: Ethical awareness and the creative advertising student. International HETL Review, Volume 7, Article 4.