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A client we won't accept

Keeping it non-toxic

We live in a diverse world and very often I’d argue to each their own. I’ve sat down with many people I disagree with on many levels. Larry Flint would be one of them. We built a website for Donald Trump many years ago even though we are wired totally different. Yet there is a line that we all have to draw for ourselves.

I was asked in a conversation this week what potential clients conceptbakery would not want to touch. Ashley Madison, the dating website promoting adultery, was one of the first that came to mind. Two days later I’m reading that this company is making its second attempt to go public, this time in London.

Why would a digital agency not want to work with a company that also works in the digital space?

1. We are relationship builders, not relationship destroyers

Ashley Madison works on the premise of finding interested clients partners for extramarital affairs. Their founder claims that this can help to improve many unhappy marriages but we tend to strongly disagree. It is a service that is destined to cause people harm. This is not one competitor building market share at the expense of other businesses. These are activities we are constantly involved with. This is a business with an unethical core. It makes everyone associated with it look bad as well.

2. Employee morale

I heard a quote a few weeks ago by Jim Goodnight that resonated. He said “95 percent of my assets drive out the gate every evening. It’s my job to maintain a work environment that keeps those people coming back every morning”. The same is true for conceptbakery. As a co-founder, I lead the way and want our team members to fully support our path. I might have put them to the test before but I could never expect them to follow me with a client like this. Our team has been carefully hand-picked and this is not who they are. It ties back to having integrity and walking the walk when it comes to relationship building. We have high standards in our communication among ourselves, with our clients and with their clients. Trust and honesty are just some of the values we strongly advocate. All of this would go out the window with a client like this. We could essentially close shop.

3. Sending a message to their supporters

The planned IPO is meant to fuel a massive expansion plan of the service. If the company manages to go public then we should look at who’s going to purchase their stock. We know that many institutional investors will not touch this. That leaves private investors and some other random players. Anyone that owns this stock is looking to make a profit in the form of dividends or rising stock prices. Essentially they’re making a profit on the misfortune of others. It is far worse than owning a casino stock. One could argue that casinos can destroy people’s lives but at least some people also gain to benefit from those enterprises. At Ashley Madison there are no winners.

I could go on but I think you get my point. No matter how you look at a potential client likes this: there is nothing to be gained for professional sin helping them to advance. As marketers we always how to look at the bigger picture and the impact of our work. There is plenty of good work to be done out there. No one has to work on accounts like this one.

Please note: We have not been approached by Ashley Madison and certainly don’t expect to be in the future.

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