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Annual ethics awards given for ads that ‘lift the spirit’

by Carol Elliott

November 3, 2011

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An advertising campaign that promotes a “pay it forward” philosophy and one that illustrates the crucial need to educating adolescent girls in developing countries both recently won 2011 EthicMark® Awards. The annual awards recognize advertising that “uplifts the human spirit and society.”

EthicMark® Awards, presented recently at the yearly SRI in the Rockies Conference for investment professionals, is co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Ethical Markets LLC and the World Business Academy.

The winning submission in the for-profit category was “Responsibility: Doing the Right Thing,” created for Liberty Mutual by Hill Holliday, an ad that fosters discussion about what it means to do the right thing toward fellow human beings.

In the not-for-profit category, “The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking,” created for Nike Foundation by Wieden + Kennedy, for its potent message that “given the chance, 250 million adolescent girls in developing countries can unleash the world’s greatest untapped solution to poverty.”

“There is so much criticism of advertising out there,” said Patrick E. Murphy, Notre Dame marketing professor and co-chair of the awards presentation. “Since their inception in 2004, EthicsMark® Awards have served to highlight the positive and powerful role that advertising can play in educating consumers about important initiatives that impact the human community, and empower them to find solutions to the pressing needs of a global society.”

Additional media campaigns that won honorable mention included: 

  • What is Moxy Vote?” a campaign to mobilize retail investors by simplifying and improving the proxy voting process;
  • The Lottery of Life,” a campaign of Save the Children Sweden that asks the public to imagine being born in the shoes of someone less fortunate;
  • One percent story,” about a global movement of over 1300 companies that donate 1 percent of their sales to environmental organizations; and

The EthicMark® Award recognizes socially responsible media campaigns by businesses, nonprofit organizations or individuals, using either the traditional media — print, radio, and television — or the new media— Internet, cable and wireless communications. Individuals and organizations can nominate their own campaigns or those of others.

The criteria for a nomination includes advertising that demonstrates an adherence to the highest ethical standards; a respect for consumers as human beings, a support for a diversity of cultural and religious values; the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, social responsibility and environmental stewardship; and an intent to uplift the human spirit and society.

Entries are judged by a panel of academics, business executives and World Business Academy members. The nominating process for the 2012 EthicMark® Awards will open in the spring. Visit the EthicMark website or contact Deborah Coch, Marketing Department assistant, at (574) 631-6072 or Deborah.M.Coch.1@nd.edu.