Proyecto Visión 21

Is it OK to promote crime on TV to sell products or services?

We are in a middle of an unprecedented economic and social crisis, both nationally and globally. For that reason, it seems almost irreverent and out of place to write a column about a couple of TV commercials. But those commercials are a symbol and a symptom of our own times.

Last month, a well-know online stock trading company launched a TV ad where the products and services of that company are presented in the context of a bank robbery. In other words, the company decided the best way to promote its services was associating those services with what in real life is a federal crime.

It seems it was a good strategy because soon afterwards another company, in this case selling satellite TV services, used a similar ad, showing a person calling the company to activate some services while in the middle of a bank robbery.

I am aware we live in a time of constant change we there is no more room for “business as usual” and that, because of that, companies and advertising agencies need to be as creative as they can to attract and retain customers. Having said that, what’s the limit between extreme creativity and glamorizing crime?

Is it ethically appropriate to take a federal crime so lightly as to include it in the context of a TV commercial promoting a certain product or service? And what are the social consequences of trivializing a serious crime?

Perhaps somebody thinks those two TV ads are funny and innocent, without any harmful consequences. And perhaps that’s the case. Then, we need to ask ourselves what kind of society is a society that promotes crime as a way to sell products or services.

The next question then should be what is going to be the next crime to be appear on a TV commercial. Will it be kidnapping? Rape? Gang violence? Illegal reentry after being deported?

Somebody may think I am exaggerating to the point of absurdity. In my own defense, let me say that not so long ago it was also absurd to think an advertising agency would suggest and a well-known company would accept to use a serious crime on a TV commercial to sell a service.

Whatever the case, in our contemporary world absurdity has been replaced by reality or, in other words, reality became absurd. Perhaps that’s a good description of our post-modern (or post-post-modern) and trans-humanist world.

In our world (regardless of the “ism” attached to it), morality and decency have lost so much ground that even mentioning the words “morality” and “decency” is perceived to be a retrograde anachronism. But in a world where words and values are devaluated, the human life also loses its value.

For that reason, it is absurd to think there will be an immigration reform based on the respect to human dignity, because that dignity –undeniable and evident for many of us- is no longer recognized as such. If it were, the media would not be glamorizing crimes.


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