Watch first, then continue reading, please.
As artists, animators, designers and other creatives, we are often called upon to lend our talents and skills to give a new face to a product, a company, or an idea. We make political campaign ads. We make soft drink commercials. We make internal videos for fortune 500 companies. We donate our time to promote small things we feel great about, yet also work to rebrand some of the worst corporations on earth. We do both of these things because it is part of the business. One day it’s a friendly, green face on a known polluter and the next it’s a designer brand that wants to look like a grassroots social movement. Sometimes it’s a music video whose depiction of women is questionable, sometimes it’s a political ad whose facts we know are not quite right.
What responsibility do we have in this, if any? I’m not condemning anyone in particular, and I’m not saying we need some sort of vice squad roaming around calling one another out. But I’ve talked to so many people in this business who see themselves as just a tool to be used, no more than a sentient, albeit creative, installation of Photoshop. But we are more than our copies of Adobe Creative Suite. We are more than our pencils. We are more than our workstations and our client list. We are sentient, choosing people. Our talent is powerful. But we’re often more interested in how big the name is, how big the paycheck is, and how creative we can be that we can forget what our real impact is. Is being a professional putting aside our own hangups and doing work for clients with whom we actively disagree, or is that giving up a part of ourselves that is acutely human? Are such ideals a sign of naivete, or something precious to be guarded?
So think about it. Have a line somewhere, or have a reason not to have one. If you’re cool with what you’re doing – awesome! Have a blast and make great things! I look forward to seeing them! But please, think before you rebrand. Do it because you choose to, not simply because it’s your function. We’ve all been there, but it’s a discussion that doesn’t seem to happen enough.
Feel free to leave questions or comments.
To answer a frequently asked question, all of the art and animation and even that weird tone at the end was made in After Effects.
And lastly: Yes, I think segregation is terrible- morally, socially, philosophically and historically. That’s why I picked it. To show how easily – through cute, approachable, creative advertising – something truly horrifying can be rebranded, repackaged and promoted. And whose responsibility is that – the client who ordered it, the artist who made it, the viewer who accepted it, or none, or all?