What’s Madison Avenue Pitching Now? Cultural and Political Awareness

Madison Avenue exists to persuade. (Check out how stylish this car looks! Doesn’t everyone seem to be having a great time while drinking this beer?) In a perilous political climate, however, some advertising agencies have decided to use their marketing acumen in service of advancing cultural and political causes, rather than selling products.

It is not unusual for agencies to work with nonprofit groups or create public service announcements, pro bono, but this new activism entails a deeper level of involvement.

For instance, an ad agency in Austin, Tex., recently teamed up with a community health organization, the American Civil Liberties Union and the director Richard Linklater to produce an online video, released last month, opposing a state bill that would require transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificates in public schools and government-funded buildings. The bill is reminiscent of a law passed last year in North Carolina that drew heavy criticism from prominent business leaders and calls by sports leagues and entertainers to temporarily boycott the state…

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