Reading the Conditional Backwards

Licensed to sell.

Jaci Russo in Ad Age argues that we need more regulatory barriers to working at advertising agencies:

Even Realtors and interior designers require testing and certifications to practice their trade, and it just seems wrong that our industry does not require the same amount of quality control. In the end, I guess the question we need to answer should be, “Is what we do important?” How can we expect clients to respect us if we don’t even take our industry seriously enough to insist on testing and licensing?

What about continuing education? Yoga teachers and speech pathologists are but a few of the professionals that are required to attend continuing-education classes to maintain their licenses. Yet advertising and marketing professionals have no such requirement. I don’t think the human body has changed nearly as much as our industry in the past 10 years.

This is a correct analysis. Why should interior designers require licenses but art directors at ad agencies don’t? The correct answer is that neither should require a license. But what we see here is that status quo bias drives a slippery slope. People see an arbitrary system of licensing requirements, assume that existing requirements are justified, and therefore reason that what we need is more licensing requirements to level the playing field.