8th June 2011

Turning down Commissions

I often get asked if I would ever turn down a commission. Sometimes things don’t work out due to lead times or budgets, but generally speaking, with the exception of one pretty scary brief (you know who you are!) I’ve never point blank refused a job. Until yesterday, when one of the world’s biggest Tobacco companies emailed me.

As one of those slightly preachy, life-long non-smokers, I wish those nasty little cancer sticks would be outlawed for good. It’s a poisonous industry that I want no part of.

But it seems it may have wanted a little part of me, or at least my ink. The brief sounded charming, the final application would have been high profile and those tobacco companies aren’t known for their meager marketing budgets, but I just knew this wasn’t a job for me.

And yes, I do work for alcohol companies – however I see these as being in a different league. Enjoy alcohol responsibly and it does you no harm (maybe even some good according to the scientists!) but there’s no such thing as a ‘harmless’ ciggy.

I’m sure the right business decision is to be analytical, see jobs as figures on the balance sheet and cash in the bank, but I knew deep down that I just couldn’t work for this client. I’ve always hated smoking with a passion and to turn around and work for the enemy would be to go back on 28 years of nagging friends and relatives to quit.

So maybe I’ve turned down a ‘killer’ job (pun completely intended), maybe this month’s turnover won’t be as much as it could have been and maybe I should be less emotional when it comes to accepting commissions.

But then, what’s the point? I do this job because I love it, not because I think it’s going to make me rich.

So I’m glad I said no; glad I won’t be helping them sell their poison sticks and glad that I can fill my desk with inky projects that won’t lead to your demise!



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