| Art

Trace Elements: Taboo

So it’s Tuesday morning and I’m writing copy from home for a tobacco firm.

What makes it worse ethically and karmically is they’re global. Plus I’ve just noticed the words tobacco and taboo look spookily similar (okay, -ish).

I’m not writing the packet warnings, like These Cigarettes Are Going To Kill You. I’m guessing a specialist copywriter gets parachuted in for those. Perhaps with a background in Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery While Blah Blah Blahing or This Lift Will Plummet If Filled With More Than 10 People (although if Pugsley Arbuckle steps in, I suggest the rest of you take the stairs).

We freelancers often get offered the morally toxic work. And few of us can afford to say no. Mainly because our mortgage lenders don’t exist to applaud our principles at the end of each month. They just want paid.

As the great Groucho Marx quipped: “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them… Well, I have others.”

I wonder if my mortgage man at HSBC is a smoker?


Read more of James McConachie's Trace Elements every Tuesday.

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