Why I won’t apologise for working in advertising

People often feel guilty about working in advertising. Here, Bruno Steffen, head of strategy at Gut, asks those in the industry to embrace the wonderful opportunities it offers instead

Last month I found myself in Abu Dhabi on a whirlwind work trip, a blur of brainstorming sessions and client pitches. Forget visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque or spending all my money in Yas Mall – my first time in the United Arab Emirates was spent commuting between my hotel and a few meeting rooms.

But I still got to have a creative review with my feet on the sand, see the sun set behind a literal palace while we finished a presentation, and discuss potential future projects while eating the best hummus of my life. This is not meant to sound like a flex (although I’m conscious it also kind of is), but rather a perspective.

When my plane touched down in Amsterdam a few days later, I couldn’t stop thinking how lucky I was: I had visited somewhere completely new – geographically and culturally – and what got me there was the same thing that pays my bills every month. Beyond beaches and hummus, the trip reminded me why I love working in advertising.

Whether you’re new to advertising or several decades deep into the industry, chances are, someone close to you will eventually raise a judgmental eyebrow when you tell them how you spend your days. According to them, advertising is a profession you’re supposed to feel at least a little bit guilty about pursuing (and even guiltier about enjoying) – a selfish career path, founded on unethical principles of capitalism and consumerism and making people buy things they really don’t need.

As advertisers, I see our responsibility as transforming those unavoidable eight minutes of advertisements during a 30-minute TV show into compelling, entertaining content

I’m not sure whether this sentiment has grown in recent years or if my awareness of it has simply sharpened as I grow increasingly annoyed, but I want to offer a different viewpoint.