I watched “60 Minutes” today. My eyes closed and big balls of tears rolled down my face as I saw a group of teens from Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School shooting (USA), headed by Emma Gonzalez, whom captivated the world in her speech for Gun Control. Currently, in many states (USA) someone under the age of 21 can go into a store and purchase a semi-automatic. They could even be a little hyped on Vyvance or some other ADHD medicine, anti-depressants or maybe leading a Twitch-hosted first-person shooter 36 hour gaming marathon. Its Sunday night for me. I am not gaming. I am not a gamer at all actually. I am usually working on something creative (non-client related). Tonight however, my eyes can’t get off the screen as David’s (Husband) and I’s soup boils over the stove. In my heart, I want send this poor 17-year old a message saying you don’t have to continue this — let me help you. It’s a huge burden for someone so young to take on this extremely polarized debate. I watch her speaking in the microphone, suggesting how selling weapons of war to just anyone just seems stupid. “Common America!”. She also explains that they will be looked at as the “mass shooting generation”.
I shiver. I want to make a difference like this girl.
The most dangerous time for our planet.
We are in a time of change. While today is one of the greatest of our existence, in which we can order a frothy cappuccino to our front door, we have access to any type of learning platform, and there are antibiotics readily available for nearly any infection. But there are still monumental challenges ahead of us (nuclear, global warming, AI).
“For me (Steven Hawking), the ability to use technology to communicate has been a liberating and positive experience. Without it, I would not have been able to continue working these many years past.But it also means that the lives of the richest people in the most prosperous parts of the world are agonizingly visible to anyone, however poor, who has access to a phone. And since there are now more people with a telephone than access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, this will shortly mean nearly everyone on our increasingly crowded planet will not be able to escape the inequality.The consequences of this are plain to see: the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, finding that the Instagram nirvana is not available there, they seek it overseas, joining the ever greater numbers of economic migrants in search of a better life. These migrants in turn place new demands on the infrastructures and economies of the countries in which they arrive, undermining tolerance and further fueling political populism.For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.
(I just got depressed too…)
This is all Paul Rand’s Fault.
Sadly, much of the largest problems occurred during the mayhem of marketing in the 50’s and 60’s. Creative people like you and I ran the show, offering digital representation in the form of ads that resulted in cultural definitions. What does this mean? We had a duty to our clients to promise ROI, rather than a commitment to our civilization. We changed an entire generation with these ad’s. We made the mother of six look beautiful in her suburban home with a red dress, dark tilted hat and of course the famous CAMEL Wide cigarette. (Bless my grandmother’s heart). A generation’s problem? (I am not pointing fingers). Or maybe we can all just say Paul Rand had good intentions.
At the bottom of these ads solicited advice. “Please don’t have more than 2 drinks if pregnant”. If you take a look at almost every huge campaign since 1945, the focus was 100% dedicated to consumption. Hence the birth of the college degree — Graphic Design & Marketing.
Conscious Capitalism Starts with your Hero section.
Consumer education and conscious capitalism will be the largest feat of humanity, and it will be spear headed by designers and makers. Patagonia represented an new form of company responsibility to the public. They spoke from the heart when they changed their home screen to black with big serif font, “They President Stole your Land” — referring to Donald Trump’s policies that allowed Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments to be available for development. Another case, “The most important thing we make is a difference” — from Chobani offers an in depth case for refocusing what American’s eat, lowering their own sugar levels and offering a natural choice for cow’s milk. Of course we all know that it was much more than yogurt for these guys. Their passion for healthy eating, has created a brand with a 1000 little tips and stories inspiring their “users (hate that word)” that your body is the only one you got.
Designers are our largest brand ambassadors. And more than ever we mustlearn to transcend a brand ethically. The two cases above are extreme to make a point. But instilling an ethical direction in the products we create and the clients that we represent starts at the RFP stage. Try to find a positive human passion point and help convey that to customers. Yes, you can actually mention to clients to alter their product or packaging — I have personally seen this by a company I used to work at and this particular company’s sales doubled and their use of plastic declined by 92% — something the company now relishes (a small win). We now focus on creating movements, facilitating the “impact terminology” within everything we help to publish. And it’s easy to do this in every industry — restaurants, hotels, games, software — pushing forward the “why” during every conversation will actually make better products, make better marketing campaigns and people will want to business with you.
“Educate Yourself, Reduce your Footprint and Eat Healthy”
I heard a 7 year old waiting at the gas station for her dad to finish pumping say this as she bounced her little baby elephant on the hood of my car. I looked at her, bent down and said, “you’re going to change the world with these words”. She gets its. It seems this generation, with their big blue eyes have more that they care about then their plastic wrapped, sugar infused Popsicles. People are actually greater than that landing page, little logo or San serif your put together last year. This generation is demanding more and our team personally is thrilled to be able to give that to them.
What have you done for them lately…