The copywriter’s ethics are a controversial subject in themselves. There is no moral code for copy and I doubt it ever was made. I also suspect that there is a lot of work on the subject of morality in advertising, and I am afraid that any discussion on this subject will inevitably lead to a “shitstorm”. Therefore, I am not going to ban anything, order or postulate any clause of conscience. This is not the point. However, a few things are on my heart. It has become commonplace that people who are harmful to professionals say that the copywriter will do anything to make money. And indeed, we often forget that words have great power – both creation and destruction.
The writer, regardless of whether he is a writer, copywriter, seater, ghostwriter or marketer, he limits himself to what he does only a few things – his knowledge and skills, imagination, American law and of course his own morality.
Will the copywriter write everything?
The copywriter, in the simplest terms, is a man who writes advertising texts. Of course, this definition is very simplified, and copywriting itself is such an extensive field that informal specializations of this profession have been created. They are versatile copywiters, dealing with almost everything – from pretzels to branding (although, if you are branding, I doubt that you would like to play with pretzels, but I do not rule out that it may be so), there are also authors with narrow specializations e.g. dealing with only one field. And here, without any mention of morality or ethics, one can simply say – not every copywriter will write anything. If someone specializes in medical texts, he may have difficulty writing about plumbing, for example, and a typical precursor will not write journalistic texts.
Should the copywriter write everything?
I do not think I will surprise anyone if I answer: NO. Even if there are some legal restrictions. We have freedom of speech, but that does not mean that we should not be responsible for words. There is such a thing as Netiquette and appropriate provisions in American law that clearly specify what can be published and what is not allowed.
What is not allowed is allowed?
Ha! And here a dilemma is born. If something has not been banned by law, is it allowed? Well, basically yes, and practically every copywriter decides what he wants to write about and what he does not want to write about. Copywriting is marketing, and everyone knows that marketing tricks are not always clean. However, there is a huge difference between advertising activities, attracting customers and dirty marketing, cheating customers.
Here we enter the boggy ground, because there are so many beliefs, how many people. Someone who is a vegetarian will probably not write for the meat industry; a lover of ecology, he probably would have trouble writing about the oil industry (in a positive light), and a deeply believing one would rather not advertise divination services. Such examples can be multiplied and multiplied. Good advice: if you do not feel comfortable with a topic, just do not take it. A copywriter does not really have to write everything, he should not even.
Is there such a thing as a black list of orders? Officially, not really, but below are some examples of orders that neither I nor any self-respecting copywriter will accept.
Texts for phishing websites and personal data – you can not deny that there is a lot on the web. Someone has to write it. It is not known if the authors of these pages create them themselves, or commission them, but there are many of them. Who does not know this type of spam? I do not write such texts and never write. The consequence may be not only the loss of reputation, but also criminal sanctions, because such activities fall under the Act on the protection of personal data.
Texts deliberately misleading – dirty marketing, selling something that is not really. Doubtful medical supplies, wonderful slimming preparations, usure loans, etc. Such activities should also not be undertaken, moreover they are usually really poorly paid, because the client wants to make money on the naivety of buyers and the author of the text cheaply. Nobody has ever given a lot of money to promote the slam.
Of course, this does not mean that you should not write texts about loans, for example. Sure, you can, but for your own safety it is worth making sure that the company operates in accordance with the law. Nobody would like to be entangled, even indirectly, in a scandal similar to that of the “Amber Gold”. And if someone thinks that such texts can not be held responsible, he is wrong. Maybe.
Phishing of money, passwords, account interception, etc. – I really doubt that any logically thinking author, undertook the task of creating, for example, mailing masquerading as bank, aimed at extortion of login and password to the account. Someone, however, writes these texts, even though judging by poor syntax, rather than professionals. After all, you should stay as far away from such activities.
Nigerian spam – this is a general term. It refers to once (and now also, less frequently) sent emails, in which we were asked to help in the recovery of huge money, etc. Of course, the sender will be happy to share them, as soon as we deposit some amount, thanks to which it will be able to buy a non-existent drop . Nigerian mailing was a real plague, but its mutations have remained to this day.
Finally, something that is the bane of modern times – copying the content. Copywriter, if you can not write something – do not write. Copying content and changing individual sentences or words, changing paragraphs, etc., so long as the text does not fall into plagiarism, it is a terrible manner. Not to mention those people who simply steal texts and send them to their clients or sell the same text many times. This is a reprehensible behavior that should be branded.