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Design Ethics- Draft

Say I am a designer who is working for a design firm. My boss comes into my office one day (Yes, I have my own office. I am a great designer. Play along.) She tells me that the firm just got a new client, and she would like me to take the lead in designing their ad campaign. “Who is the client?”, I ask. “Hummer,” she answers.

I look at her, shocked. Hummers are absurd. We have a fossil fuel shortage yet people still feel the need to drive MILITARY CARS THAT GET THE MILAGE OF tanks through the suburbs. What, do THEY expect an ambush on the way to the grocery store? OR Are THEY planning on driving to the top of A DESERTED mountain with THEIR family this weekend? If not, then the HUMMER IS A complete waste of fuel. Not only that, the fumes from THESE urban assault vehicle pollutE our air.

BUT, That being said, should I take the job? My boss tells me that I have to, Hummer requested me specifically. Great. Now what should I do? Should I design the worst ad I have ever made? Should I cleverly hide secret messages in the ad that subliminally tell people to not buy a Hummer? OR….SHOULD TAKE A STAND? EVEN AT THE POSSIBLE EXPENSE OF MY JOB?

My answer is no. I should create the best ad possible to sell those gas guzzlers. Sure, I think that Hummers are wasteful, are dangerously large on the roads, and are basically unethical themselves. However, I have an obligation to my firm to represent them in the best possible way, and that is by only doing my best on this campaign. I also have the ethical obligation to the client to design an effective ad campaign to the best of my ability. They requested me because they had seen my other work and decided that my ads were what they want.<NEED TO CONNECT THE DOTS A LITTLE BETTER, EXPLAIN WHY THIS IS A BALANCE OF ETHICAL IMPERATIVES RATHER THAN JUST YOU WANTING TO KEEP YOUR JOB, AND WHY THE IMPERATIVE TO DO YOUR OUT WEIGHS THE IMPARATIVE NOT TO SELL GAS GUZZLERS. And since they requested me, I cannot refuse the job without risking being fired.

EVEN THOUGH I WOULD DO, THAT DOESN’T I WOULD VIOLATE LARGER ETHICS WHILE In the ad campaign itself, I would make sure that Hummers are not depicted as anything they are not, such as environmentally friendly. I would make it clear that while I will design effective ads, I will only include true information and nothing, whether it be text or images, that is misleading. If their product is good, it should sell itself.< WOULD YOU BE FIRED IF THEY TRY TO MAKE YOU INCLUDE UNTRUE INFO\?

It all depends on the product itself, though. For example, if I were in the same situation but instead of Hummer as my client, it was a presidential candidate that I did not agree with, I would not take the job. Yes, I would get a lot of exposure as a designer if I did, but I would not want my name attached to a candidate that I do not support, even if it meant losing my job.<NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR WHY YOU THINK THE POLITICAL CANDIDATE IS A HIGH-STAKES CHOICE.


Each designer has to make the decision FOR HERSELF where to draw the line between what is ethical and what is not. Unfourtanately, there is no line drawn for us, as there are in other professions, such as lawyers. And while I would very much like to stand up for what I believe in, I also have to pay rent. This is what makes the line between ethical and not seem to blur at times, the need to support myself. If I were to lose too many jobs because I stood up for what I believe in, and never took clients like Hummer, no one would want to hire me. Then I would be living off of public assistance, which would be unethical in itself because I am a trained, skilled person able so hold a job.It is a very tricky business, standing up for what you believe in. <END STRONGER? YOU ARE SEEMINGLY DISMISSING A PLACE FOR ETHICS IN DESIGN, AND I THINK BY PUTTING THIS IN BLACK AND WHITE YOU ARE MAKING IT HARDER THAN IT REALLY IS. YOU PROBABLY CAN PASS ON A FEW JOBS WITHOUT ENDING UP ON ASSISTANCE.