“Strike, strike, strike”… Yep, myself and my rabble of buddies will be joining thousands of other Lewisham Borough residents this Saturday to march against the planned closure of our local A&E. Tory Health Minister Andrew Landsley MP and his hand-picked ‘special administrator’, Matthew Kershaw, have recommended that the successful NHS Trust A&E wing of Lewisham hospital be closed, forcing patients to use the indebted Queen Elizabeth hospital, five miles away in Woolwich. It also proposes children’s wards, critical care, complex/emergency surgery and perhaps maternity services be closed by 2015/16, and the hospital’s Victorian buildings be sold off for £17million (only £5million more than the £12million spent on refurbishment in A&E this year). I’m not going to go into further detail about this… If anything, I’m surprised at myself. It’s been a while since I’ve felt so impassioned and furious about anything that I’ve felt the need to leave my warm, comfortable home and stomp the streets of South-East London… but I’m livid, mega-angry, steam-jetting-out-of-my-ears infuriated.
I’ve been trying to remember when I last attended a protest. I think it would have to be back in 2003 when we marched against war. Amusingly, my Dad almost choked on his sandwich whilst watching the news, I don't think he expected to see me and my best friend on screen shouting ‘Blood and oil do not mix. Bush and Blair are fucking pricks’.
Jokes aside, if we take a moment to think and reflect, when was the last time that we felt the need to do something for the greater good? To help our community, influence society and engage the world?
Contrary to the public conception of adland, I think that many of you will actually have some great responses to this question, arguing that there is more ‘good’ being created currently then at any other time in our industry. People are more responsible with their messages and with the influence that they have upon their world. Last year I had the fortune of interviewing many very influential and gifted members of our industry… but three stand out in my memory in relation to my above question and here’s why:
“If you distil this industry down to its very essence, we have two important words. One: ‘people’ and two: ‘behaviour’. What we do with creativity is to change behaviour. We change the way people think and feel and act about a brand and ultimately the way they behave. So, creativity has this incredible power to change anything. It can solve any business or social problem. Creativity is the key that unlocks the door; behavioural change is what we do. I believe that every brand has to be driven by a human purpose, not what a brand does and what it is; it’s what a brand means to people and the value it has in people’s lives.”
“There hasn’t been a day in my life where my country (Columbia) has not been at war. The government started, as of 2002, to have a very structured approach to the guerrillas and the only thing that they realised that they didn’t have in 2005/6 was a structured communications approach You have a military strategy, you have an exit strategy and you talk to your enemy and you talk to your people. We were hired years ago to start doing this and they granted us unprecedented access to the guerrillas as they leave the jungle. So as soon as a guerrilla leaves the jungle, not one by one, but every time there are demobilisations we get a chance to go and talk to them. This enables us to understand what is happening, what has changed and what kind of media they are looking at right now… And so that’s when we discovered, when the guerrillas came back and they talked… ‘It has to be human. We have to capture humanity’... It is very inspiring. It makes me love what I do more. It makes me fall in love with my profession more because I can do something, I can do a lot of things… I can make my country a better place.”
“I think anything that shines a light on all the good that this industry is doing, and can do, and pushes more people to do it is, I think, a great thing... I don’t want it to become that you can tick this box of ‘goodness’ and just do the rubbish over there. It should permeate through everything that we do anyway, but I feel like the fact that these shows are pushing it and behind it is only a good thing. We are an incredibly influential industry. How wonderful it is; is there any thing as creative as solving problems – real problems, real issues? Literally! That is the most inspiring part of our industry. We’ve known for years that we can build and create commerce, that we can fuel it and drive. That’s what our industry has been celebrated for and is very good at, but it extends far beyond that. You know, we create culture. We can help push things forward – I’m not saying we can solve everything, but we can contribute to it. There is so much good that our industry can contribute and I think that’s fantastic… But the more that unites this incredibly forward facing industry to do more for society is great. I’m a big supporter of it. It also feels so well timed. It’s perfect timing… it’s the world we live in now. You can be ambitious and you can still care at the same time.”
If any of you would like to share with us your thoughts and responses to my earlier question, I’d love to hear from you... Please send your answers to me either via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook
. In the meantime, I recommend taking a moment of your day to visit the above interviews – they are really interesting. Three very different people but all with a similar passion and in the meantime, fingers and toes crossed that by the grace of someone or other, that maybe just maybe, this weekend’s strike might for once make some difference…
Hell, at least I may have a new battle cry…
Until next week…