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Licensed to...Advertise
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Several days ago an architect was being interviewed on NPR. He was quite upset about the situation in California, where an architecture firm designed a prison that was known for its use of "solitary confinement." The architect believes that that firm should immediately cease and desist in its prison building work because all licensed architects make an oath saying that their designs should do no harm to anyone, anywhere. And because architects are licensed, professional groups have gone out and stopped those practicing who weren't.

This brought an interesting thought to our mind — what if AdLand created an advertising license?

The public relations industry has something resembling a license: the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification. The APR shows groups that a professional who claims they do public relations actually know what they're talking about. Unfortunately, the APR is a little outdated; it came into existence when universities had no real public relations majors or masters programs. We'd like to see the APR offered to those undergrads and masters graduates who are looking to enter the profession. 

So what if AdLand created a license for advertising professionals? Would we see a difference? One would like to think economically; that if we created a barrier of entry for the profession, those who really care about it would be the only ones willing to jump the hurdle, causing the overall industry talent to improve. 

A weeding process.

Perhaps the ANA and 4A's could create versions of the license. Holding companies and brands would love it, because they would have the money to get the license and brands would create a policy saying they only work with licensed advertisers. Talk about shrinking the selection pool!

The license would come with an oath, swearing that the advertising would be truthful at all times, and meant to inform and persuade, not to manipulate or deceive. Creative should be used for the good of society and the audiences the brand or agency targets. The oath would make sure that potential advertising professionals understand that carrying a message from the source to the decision-maker is a powerful position, not to be taken lightly.

Though implementing a license like this would uncover some issues, but ladies and gentlemen, something has to change. We all keep complaining about the same issues, without supplying answers.

Maybe, just maybe, a license to advertise is viable.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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