The Royals' Nick Cummins urges ad agencies and production companies not to work on anti-marriage equality campaigns with 'Say No to No'

NickCummins_479 (1).jpgBy Nick Cummins (left), creative partner, The Royals

It looks like we are going to have a plebiscite in some form on marriage equality. And that means our LGBTQI friends are going to be surrounded by hurtful and potentially harmful messages. But as as a group of people who are in the business of making messages we can do something about this.

If we all come together as an industry and say No to making or publishing these messages we can have a huge positive impact. So a group of us have launched Say No to No. An honour roll of companies and individuals who pledge they will not work on the harmful vote No campaign. So please take a moment and register your name as one of the companies or people who are taking a stand and support your LGBTQI colleagues, friends or family.

Australians have always been quick to define ourselves as Badge_2.jpga country where we help each other out. We pride ourselves on being fair - our national anthem even has it in the title, for God's sake. But when it comes to marriage equality somehow we have forgotten that a fair go for all is at our core. Even worse, our elected officials don't have the backbone to make the call on our behalf.

This means we are likely to have a plebiscite in some form. And with this plebiscite will come a whole lot of hurtful messages from the No campaigners.
Messages that will upset many in our community. Messages that may push some of us into depression or, even worse, to take our own lives.

Depending on the research you look at, people who identify as being gay or lesbian are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience anxiety and/or depression, largely due to homophobic harassment and violence. A report called Growing Up Queer, conducted by the University of Western Sydney and Twenty10, proves that the unfair treatment of non-heterosexual people is a life-and-death matter. The study found 16 per cent of GLBTIQ young Australians had attempted suicide and a third had harmed themselves, largely again due to homophobic harassment.

Luckily we can do something. After all, we are in the business of making messages. Imagine if every agency, production company, sound designer or illustrator said No to working on these harmful ads. Imagine then our friends in media also standing up and saying No to the No campaign. And brands also joining in to pledge that no harmful ads will appear on their sites or channels.

Yes, the No campaigners will find a way to make their hurtful divisive messages. But we can make it difficult for them. And more importantly, we as an industry can show our friends in the non-heterosexual community that we still believe in them and in fairness.

Help stop the harmful messages and Say No to No.

Go to or send an email to and pledge that you won't work on the No campaign and tell us why. We will then add you to our honour roll and keep you up to date on how our movement is progressing.


On the flip side said:

On the other side of the issue, it will be interesting to see who will stand up from the plethora of companies that have put their name to the yes campaign. It's going to need corporate dollars to succeed. In particular, looking at ANZ to make a stand, now that the moment has arrived. The gAyTMs from years ago won't count for much if they don't make some noise now.

Or Air BNB said:

Or any other organisation that has profited from this 'cause' through branded content. Time to put your money where your mouth is. Its one thing to believe in something, and have your brand or service make profit as a by product. Its another to actually 'be the change'.

But I have a concern... said:

I understand that this is a well-intentioned initiative, and I always respect people who get out there and create something under their own steam, but I worry that people who are wavering in the centre about whether to vote for or against gay marriage might be irked by it. This idea preaches to the converted, whereas it's the people in the middle and slightly to the right who need to be convinced if this vote is to be won.

To a person slightly right of the polititcal spectrum - the kind of person the 'yes' campaign should absolutely be targeting - it smells a little of throwing our toys out of the cot because we didn't get our way with the parliamentary vote which, by the way, failed just 5 years ago when labor was in power.

The vote will happen. A dialogue will occur. Communications will be made. With all due respect, I caution that pretending otherwise is a little naive.

InDefenceOf said:

I'm not going to be anyone's censor.
Good luck with your campaign.

Dear But I have a concern....said said:

I agree with most of your comment except when you refer to 'a person slightly right of the political spectrum' as being the kind of person the 'yes' campaign should be targeting.
You fall too easily into the pigeon-holing of those who oppose the 'yes' vote as all being to the right.
Some of the most entrenched opposition to same sex marriage can be found on the left of the political spectrum, including some very senior federal Labor politicians whose allegiances hark back to the days when Irish Catholic working class unions were more the norm than the exception.
For instance, Labor's Tony Burke is as strident an opponent of same-sex marriage as the Liberal's Warren Entsch is a supporter.
This simply goes to prove that good and decent people on all sides of the political spectrum can hold views at variance with their political leaders on matters of conscience. To imply the left is for and the right is against is simply wrong.
As you so rightly say, the Labor Party, including Julia Gillard voted against the proposal when it was previously put.
As for Nick Cummins suggestion the entire industry refuse to support any 'No' campaign; here's an idea Nick.
Don't tell me the industry what they should and shouldn't do and who they can and can't work for.

@ InDefenceOf said:

It's not about censorship. It's about not contributing to hate speech. It's about not providing a platform for bigotry and fear to permeate and grow. It's about doing the right thing.

Good luck with the 'No' campaign.

Nick Off said:

Cultural Marxism is alive and well in adland. How sad.

Say what? said:

Once again, ad people trying to tell me what to do.
I say no to say no to no!


Great initiative guys. Onya's.

irony said:

'somehow we have forgotten that a fair go for all is at our core.'

Far better to show some creative courage and curiosity - work hard to grasp other points of view - and express them in ways that surprise, provoke (even amuse) - leaving the viewer eager to relate to a different tribe - not just shut them down.

@Say what? said:

Why are you here then?

An entire blog dedicated to the times when ad people have told people what to do (if that's what you call communication these days). Sounds like a great place for you to hang out.

Excellent campaign. This is good time for us to come together as an industry and stand united rather than against each other like we so often do. Well done Royals.

Hell Yeah said:

Shit yes, this is great. Warms my heart when I see advertisers using their powers for good. ūüĎć

D said:

Great campaign. I do question the list of names and companies on the home page though. As much as we in this industry like to show each other how enlightened we are it gives the No team a leg up - a list of people who not to approach.

MD said:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Even stupid ones. Calls for self censorship are naive and will only have the opposite effect, if any. When people on the No side feel like they are not allowed to have their opinion their conviction will become stronger.

I'm on the yes side but I don't care enough about gay rights to vote. I assume this is the same for many straight people to whom the outcome of this vote will have zero effect. Those on the No side however, care a lot. This kind of mindless BS will fuel their conviction.

Mo said:

How many LGBTQI friends do you actually have, Nick - you self-serving man of white priveldge, using a valid and emotional issue for your own personal notoriety.

Wouldn't it be nice if... said:

...the industry united and stood up for itself against under-cutting each other, against 'abusive' client behaviour of ever dwindling fees for ever-increasing scopes, etc. This is by no means intended to equate marriage equality with industry issues. Instead, to celebrate the initiative to stand up for something that's of critical importance. Great initiative Nick and The Royals. Leaders.

In Defence Of InDefenceOf said:

I agree - I won't censor anybody either.

People are allowed their opinions. People are allowed to vote no. People are allowed to respectfully put their own views forward. It doesn't automatically make them bigots.

Some people have an old fashioned view of these things, not because they choose to, but because it's their view. There are things that you and I firmly believe right now that are going to seem archaic some day, and we'll be the no's, and we'll be considered small minded.

Not condoning hate speech - I don't know an agency that would get behind any form of hate speech. But people are allowed to think, and vote, their own way. It's their right.

I believe 'yes' will take it easily. But that should be because the majority of Australians are open, forward thinking people. Not letting the no's speak their mind isn't open or forward thinking at all.

Simone Bartley said:

Great initiative Nick but my feeling is the focus needs to be on getting a YES vote for marriage equality. Most important is making sure people enrol so they CAN vote YES.

You can Errol here:

Well said:

This has certainly drawn out a lot of negative, self centered pricks hasn't it. FFS just give up the hate all round would you??? It's quite pathetic.

Not so sure said:

I believe your heart is in the right place on this, Nick, and we all know that some of the no voters are going to spit venom. But it still doesn't give us the right to gag a viewpoint just because we don't share it. My nan would be a firm no, and everything else about her is lovely. She's just from a different time.

There's a particular brand of Aussie liberalism that really gets me down - the 'we're open minded and accepting of all, as long as you believe exactly what we believe' crowd. I'm not suggesting that of Nick, but I do have to say that I've noticed a lot more hate speech from the yes crowd than the no crowd. Coopers, anyone?

Let's let this thing take its natural course and get an honest read on what Australia really thinks.

Ben said:

It's not censorship, it's simply not supporting their message. They can still have their say, I'm just not prepared to help them produce it.

@Ben said:

Giving a public voice to one side of an argument and refusing to give a voice to the other side is censorship.

Naturally you or anyone else can decline to work on something that you feel strongly about. But to expect the industry, and the media in general, to only push one view is censorship. Doesn't matter how you want to spin it.

Grumpy old men said:

Comments like this make me sad to be in this industry. This is a great initiative to simply get people to promote love. It's simply someone doing their bit. Hats off to them.
Yet somehow as always people come out with these sort of critical view points. If you aint into then do your own thing. These comments are enough to make me want to make a career change.

Groucho said:

@Simone Bartley a rare post showing wisdom in a sea of silliness.

Confused said:

I am genuinely confused by the people saying that Nick is suggesting censoring the NO voters. No voters have a right to free speech, but if you want someone to add a megaphone to that voice, go to @Not so sure's nan instead or the numerous people on this board who think love belongs to heterosexuals alone. This is an initiative to say that if you want to abstain from furthering a cause which looks to denigrate and dehumanise a group of our population, then you are not alone. I'm with @grumpy. Im sad there is so much hate in this industry and in Australia in general.

Anatomy lesson said:

As an old dead guy once said: ‚ÄúThere's no shortage¬†of brains in the advertising¬†industry, it's the vertebral column that tends to be missing.‚ÄĚ

I hope we can prove him wrong.

Hell no to no said:

It's not censorship, it's to prevent hate speech you small minded evil bigot fucktards. If you can't get behind a yes vote you have no place in this industry. Go join a fucking church where you can secretly fiddle with the choirboys.

Supporter of diversity said:

@Mo... you are making presumptions about Nick. He is one of the most considerate people you will ever meet. This is not about making publicity, it is about making a point:
that inclusivity is an important issue and should be encouraged.

@Not so sure... It's not about forcing opinions down people's throats. It's about forcing people to be tolerant. Because nobody can say they are open minded if they deign themselves high and mighty enough to dictate what other people do with their lives.

@Confused said:

'Imagine if every agency, production company, sound designer or illustrator said No to working on these harmful ads. Imagine then our friends in media also standing up and saying No to the No campaign.'

Don't you reckon that could be seen as keeping one side of an argument from being heard?

I'm a yes voter. 100%. So is pretty much everyone I know (I think?) except perhaps ny nan.

And like I said, I think the sentiment is great. But in my mind, it amounts to censorship, and I don't believe in that. And I'm not hateful, grumpy or lacking in spine.


Confused said:

@confused. What a strange argument. If a murderer came to me and asked me to make an ad promoting murder, I would say no because of my moral beliefs. Do you think I should make the ad because otherwise it would censor the murderers? Clearly not. And before you say its different because murder is illegal, so is hate speech.

Would you prefer censoring the free speech of the people who don't want to make ads for homophobes instead? Maybe FORCE people to make the ads will solve the problem for you? If its fine with you, I will continue to abstain from participating in hate speech and I in no way need your permission to do that nor do I think it infringes on other peoples right to their own free speech.

wow said:

Confused, you miss my point. I'm not asking anyone to make hate ads. Good God, no. But if my client, someone like oh, I don't know, Quaker Oats maybe, asked me to run an ad that says they believe in the sanctity of marriage and want to publicly (many would caution suicidally) say they're for no, then I would write and run their ad. It's a position, but it's not hate speech.

And if Christians Against Everything wanted to run an ad featuring a bible verse that says something about marriage being between a man and a woman, that's okay too. Again, it's not hate speech.

Comparing it to standing up for a murderer is way, way off.

Anyway, I'm done. Best of luck with the campaign, Nick. Yes for the win.

It ain't censorship said:

@@Confused, you are being way too absolute about this. Not every ad agency, media agency and production company will do this. Those guys are welcome to make the anti-gay ads. Nobody is stopping them. The rest are just saying they will refuse. It's not censorship, it's simply choosing which side of the debate you support.

@it aint censorship said:

Its doesn't really matter what side you are on. You have to respect both sides of the debate and the best way to choose your side is to vote.

To refuse to give someone a platform to air their view is infantile.

Its also infantile to set the bar for hate speech so low as an opinion you don't agree with.

For the record - I'll vote Yes.

@supporter of diversity said:

Your post would be ironic if you weren't so unaware of yourself.

It's not about forcing opinions down people's throats. It's about forcing people to be tolerant. Because nobody can say they are open minded if they deign themselves high and mighty enough to dictate what other people do with their lives.

Money talks, bullshit walks said:

So I'd like to hear what the CFO's of the industry would do - or those so-called 'creative partners' who run the independents and have their homes linked to profits - when the 'NO' client comes calling with $1million to spend in ten minutes.

Take the money and fuck-it like Grey has for BAT for years, or fire six people because the agency hasn't won a pitch in eight months and the bottomline is beckoning?

C'mon - now's your time to speak.

Alt right nutjob said:

Putting liberty as a reason for same-sex marriage also requires that we maintain liberty around speech and its hard to argue for tolerance when we come from a position of intolerance towards free speech.

Reality Cheque said:

For those discussing the merits or otherwise of taking the case of a 'NO' client in this debate:

The advertising industry faces the crossroads every day in the types of clients whose wares we promote.

Despite moral or ethical misgivings, agencies accept business and commit to advocating their brand.

Some people within the agencies will refuse to work on those accounts.

Hell, I had a CD who wouldn't work on the agency's two largest accounts.

But generally we're whores for whoever waves a dollar at us.

We are in the advocacy business, and it often requires detachment from a private, personal position.

Is this any different?

Ogilvy said what??? said:

That's funny. I work for Ogilvy. This is news to me. Since when are we in the business of censorship? Management hasn't mentioned a position on the topic. Neither have they suggested they'd turn down new business. I'm a gay man and I don't buy into the lies that we'll kill ourselves if we see some ads. I think the YES camp is just scared we'll lose if it goes to a vote and then we won't have a leg to stand on. All the commenters talking about "hate speech" need to harden the fuck up.

Gruen Pitch Challenge said:

Heck, this would make an excellent Pitch segment on Gruen, to sell the unsellable.

Hopefully they're already working on it.

@Hell no to no said:

"It's not censorship, it's to prevent hate speech you small minded evil bigot fucktards."

You fucking clown. You consider someone voting "no" to be hate speech? Hate speech? really?

I'm all for marriage equality - who cares who wants to marry who. But idiots like you, who switch straight into hysterical mode, shouting "bigot" or "hate speech" or probably fucking "Literally hitler" at anybody you disagree with, because you can't fathom that you might not be the perfection of thought your parents always told you you were, are the exact kind of person who drive people away to double down in their "hate speech" views, simply because you're too emotionally-immature and devoid of nuance and conversation to actually engage them.

There's only a single bit of hate speech here mate, and it's your "you small minded evil bigot fucktards" gem.

humanity said:

Not every agency feels comfortable running a tobacco account. Some aren't comfortable running a gambling account. So you can't presume all advertising people are whores. Many have principles and stick to them, same as here.

Because there is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Of course you can say whatever you want, but if you state that other people have fewer rights than you do, you lose all credibility. Your egalitarianism is void.

Hate speech is a real problem, and it must stop from both sides. Anyone being flippant about the issue - gay or straight - is either completely insensitive or a bully themselves. Many have taken their lives because others judge their lifestyle.

Just for a second, imagine that you, as a straight person, are told you can't get married. Stings a little right?

wow said:

It's really easy to miss the point on this issue. If you're young (or young at heart), progressive and not traditionally religious, it's a foregone conclusion. Yes. Why shouldn't lgbtqi people have exactly the same rights as everyone else? But if you're from one of a dozen traditional denominations or religions, then a yes vote goes against the teaching that you hold central to your life. It's not anti gay. It's about protecting something that you hold sacred.

Now, this is not my view. But I have enough religious people in my extended family to understand their viewpoint.

So to call them bigots or haters is as ignorant about them as they are being about the issue. Think of something that you hold sacred being broadly attacked - it's hard, because we live in a time where nothing is sacred. But I firmly believe that change will be brought about by the yes's being the bigger people.

Improtantly, though: anti marriage equality is not necessarily anti gay, and not always from a place of hate.

Sacred? said:

If the religious dogma on books written thousands of years ago is what's stopping you, sorry, but you need to get your head checked. And if your book it's the same book or books that justify slavery, mysoginism, death penalty and holy war, then, you need to be put on the looney bin. Sacred? Really? You have to be kidding me. This is the 21st Century. The only thing that should be sacred is love and freedom for all.

Kev said:

Is that legal? If not, it is certainly bigoted. If an ad agency refused to do ads for the yes campaign there would be hell to pay. It seems that the least tolerant are ones calling for tolerance.

Groucho said:

@wow to deny equality to Gay people is anti gay. How could it be anything else?

Turd baby said:

Virtue signalling out of control. Some people think marriage is for society building and reproduction of the species. But the gays must be married because tax breaks? I have the right to oppose this bullshit. I also have a right to be informed. Shame on you SJWs for stifling a well informed debate in favour of knee-jerk leftism.

double standards said:

Precisely @groucho. 100% anti-gay. There is no other way to put it.

@wow, we understand that religious groups feel the sanctity of the institution of marriage is under attack. But here's the thing.

The fact that gay people are denied the right to this institution is divisive, elitist and non-egalitarian. All of which are contrary to religious principles.

So either their religion is flawed, or their argument is.

for fuck sake said:

@Sacred? - like I said, this is not my personal point of view. Course, to know that, you would have had to read a whole paragraph and a bit before jumping on your high horse, and I know how difficult words can be for some people. I agree with you, the bible, koran and torah are full of horror stories, yet people still follow them blindly. And your genius argument to bring them round is 'get with the program'? It's a wonder any of them are able to hold out against your persuasive powers.

@Groucho - here's a really flawed analogy (it's late and I'm drunk), but to deny foreigners the right to buy Australian property, for example, is protectionist but not anti-foreigner. A lot of religious people feel they're protecting the sanctity of this marriage thing as laid out in their Book, but have zero beef with the LGBTQI community. Their no vote is protectionist, but not anti-gay. (No, I'm not calling LGBTQI people foreigners. Wind your necks in. It's just a shit analogy).

To be clear, I'm a yes voter. The only reason I'm blabbing on in these stupid fucking posts is I think this initiative amounts to censorship, I think calling every no voter a hater or a bigot shows a gross lack of understanding, and I think us yes voters who are meant to stand for tolerance and acceptance should really show a bit more tolerance and acceptance.

Nightey night.

@MD said:

"The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it.

The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!" - Dr Brian Cox

Religion requires compassion said:

@for fuck sake... You're right, It's not a good analogy. Protectionism means looking out for your interests over outsiders. Which, in this case, is not very appropriate.

The gay community belongs to the same community we do. Some even belong to the same churches.

So to your point about religious people... as nice as they are; as well-meaning as they may seem; what these people need to understand is that their actions are hurting the gay community. Therefore they are being anti-gay, whether they intend to or not.

@for fuck sake said:

Face it mate, your the image of a biggot hater. Good luck with your no vote.

oh brother said:

Correct, I do hate bigots. But I'll stick with my yes vote if it's all the same to you.

Good luck with the alphabet, and eating with utensils.

flocof said:

That would be like a totalitarian country, but we are a democracy and all should have a say and be heard. We are not communists

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