Advertising was once considered so unethical, a famous ad-man entitled his autobiography: 'Don't Tell My Mother I Work In Advertising, She Thinks I Play Piano In A Brothel.'

But that could be changing.

Not because advertising or the people within it have changed. We're still the same (creative businesspeople) and our job is still the same (help clients with their communications needs). 

But our clients are changing.

Last week I was writing about how every brand should have a 'purpose', and today it seems many companies are concluding that this purpose should not just be any old purpose but actually 'a higher purpose.'

Again, I don't think companies have suddenly become more moral just for fun. But they've realised that their consumers want them to be.

I went to a presentation on this theme a couple of weeks ago, it was given by Craig Davis, former ECD of Publicis Mojo in Sydney, who is now a speaker and consultant on 'conscious capitalism'. You can see his talk here. I'll probably mess this up, but the idea is along the lines of how every company should be striving to do more than just generate profit. Every company should operate ethically, truthfully, empathetically. A company should genuinely care about its employees, and its customers, and should be actively trying to make the world a better place. 

A great example is TOMS shoes. For every pair of shoes they sell, the company donates a new pair of shoes to a child in the developing world.

But where Craig gets really clever is with an assertion (backed up with data) that the stock prices of companies operating 'conscious capitalism' are outperforming their peers. Presumably because members of the public prefer to buy goods from companies that have a higher purpose over companies that don't.

And that affects us.

Increasingly, as our clients put ethics at the heart of what they do, our work will no longer be about selling products, but about communicating values.

Amir Kassaei, DDB’s global chief creative officer, put it pretty well at Cannes:

"We can’t get away with it any more," he said. "We can’t go on selling bullshit products and fooling people… it is time to start adding real value to people’s lives."

He's right, no?