That was no cheap trick to get your attention. All of us in advertising are guilty of this crime. I mean, how many times have we seen some rogue clients repeatedly screw their hapless share holders with utter disdain? How many times have we crafted lofty corporate campaigns for charlatans who have no scruples about blowing up Other People’s Money? How many times have we shameless played along, all for the sake of bloody billings? How many times have we shushed our conscience and looked the other way?
I dunno about you. But I’ve been a mute spectator, many a time, in many an agency. Whenever I felt deeply disturbed, I’ve left the place, without a murmur. Now, when I look back in anger, I ask myself: Was I right in keeping quiet? Shouldn’t I have blown the whistle?
The reason why I write about whistle blowing in advertising is the latest Satyam revelations. Lots of ad agencies have been associated with that company. Several sharp minds, I know, have worked on that account, directly and indirectly. The seasoned ones would have figured out long ago, that Satyam was window dressing its balance sheet. Pity, they kept their misgivings to themselves. If only they had alerted the world, we wouldn’t be witnessing the biggest Corporate Governance sham in India.
Coming back to my burden of guilt. And yours. In the light of this scam, do we still stay silent? You, and me, know that for every Satyam caught, there are hundreds of others who are walking scot-free wearing their Teflon-coated suits. Do we squeal on them? Or do we still pretend nothing ever happened?
One response I’ve often heard is: It’s the media’s job…why should we lose sleep over it? But is the media doing its job? The same media that’s going after Satyam today, was happily accepting, campaign after campaign, from the accused. No one ever bothered to study their PNL statement. The so-called business journals happily reported every doctored press write-up that came their way. No hack ever bothered to sift the spin from the facts. So how can we trust the media to expose the unexposed? Shouldn’t we ad folks identify the guilty before they cause a bigger crime?
If that option is too risky, shouldn’t we at least stop working on brands that brazenly violate laws? As opinion makers of the civil society, don’t we owe that much to our target audience who read our ads and faithfully empty their little wallets?
SPEAK UP, folks! Else, we’ll be as guilty as the numb wimp who watched the rape without voicing his dissent.
Posted by Anantha.