A view from Maisie McCabe

Marketing that's good as gold can also win awards

Regular readers of this organ cannot have failed to notice over the past year that Tom Knox, MullenLowe's chairman, has made "here for good" the...

If you’re new to us from the marketing world, the agency association has been on the front foot, asking whether its members are doing the right things.

Kate Magee covers one such initiative in this issue. Grey London is giving children a chance to try out advertising at the KidZania work-play attraction in Westfield London. Nils Leonard and Sir Martin Sorrell certainly seem to have had fun with a bit of role-play. And there’s a week to go for people – school-leavers and retirees alike – to apply for Ogilvy & Mather’s The Pipe creative internship scheme. Of course, many FMCG companies have had diversity programmes for their marketing departments for some time. 

But what if you want to do some good in your actual discipline? Are there red lines you’re not prepared to cross in terms of the types of company you would work for? Google has made the surprising move of banning ads for loans that need to be repaid in fewer than 60 days from July. From my conversations with industry figures last week, most of you seem to think it’s wrong for media owners to prevent legal products from advertising. But Dylan Williams says all the talk about the "triple-bottom line" is just "Cannes-chat" if agencies keep taking money from anyone. Moreover, it’s hardly as if all legal products advertise with impunity – cigarettes, betting and alcohol, anyone? 

I remember when a mischief-making rival tried to make much of Proximity – the BBDO network’s digital and direct arm – picking up work for Imperial Tobacco back in 2014. The contradiction supposedly being that Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO had a firmly held policy of not working with tobacco products in the UK. Never mind that the business was run from Germany and the stirrer worked for a company that itself had plenty of experience with tobacco clients. We’re always so much quicker to see the hypocrisy in other people’s actions than our own. 

As we’ll see when Lions are handed out at the Palais next month, work for charitable causes brings creative teams more than just a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. You could hardly imagine ads for tobacco or payday loans turning the juries’ heads today. But I’d be intrigued to know whether the edgy work is shocking people into donating – if they even get to see it, that is. It will be interesting to see what M&C Saatchi does with the Home Office’s counter-terrorism brief. As Dutch agency Lemz showed a couple of years ago with "Sweetie", which tackled online grooming, it’s possible to tackle really serious problems and win awards.