I am in the middle of designing a magazine article on Collett, Dickenson and Pearce – a British Advertising firm from the sixties. I used Box of Broadcasts to watch the BBC4 documentary The Men From the Agency that was made about them in 2003. I thought that the very last reflection on the agency, made by Lord Puttnam, would be a good addition to my article. It helps to put the rest of my article (more or less a celebration of the agencies success) into perspective and gives it a little bit of context as well.
“All of us were responsible for giving the world a good… kick in the arse. We’ve entertained it; we’ve sharped it up. But the irony is that probably our greatest quality may have also been our greatest defect. We we were not well-educated; we made a virtue out of not being well or certainly overly-educated. But the interesting thing was the bit that was missing from our education if you like was the lethal bit. The bit that we never really understood. What the human being is. What makes them tick? What are their rights? What are their entitlements? You know we have been responsible for selling, shoving down peoples throats – one way or another – products which have been quite evidentially very, very bad for them. If you look fifty years from now I think people will wonder where our brains were? We were selling cars that were dangerous; we were selling cigarettes that were dangerous; we were selling loads and loads of products which – in one form or another – defied peoples rights as citizens. And thats the only part about of that agency that bothers me and will go on bothering me I think for a few years to come.”
I also thought that it was relevant to my Advertising and Branding module. Often when I find myself looking back at old advertising firms, old adverts and even watch Mad Men, there is a certain amount of presupposed glamour. Even today, when you think of big perfume accounts, the presumption remains. This quote counters that, replacing the glamour with a strong pragmatic consideration.