Though likely to prompt complaint, it has to be said that there are some benefits to be gained from running risque or bad-taste advertisements.
Whatever your view on distasteful ads, advertisers bold enough to commission shocking adverts benefit from ‘talkability’, and unusual ads can have a better chance of cutting through relentless competitive clutter.
This is clearly something that Swiss watchmaker Hublot have picked up on if their recent ad featuring a black-eyed Bernie Ecclestone is anything to go by.
The bruised face of the Formula One boss, whose Hublot watch was stolen from him in a mugging last month, features in an ad with the tagline “See what people will do for a Hublot.”
Tasteless yes, but it was actually Ecclestone himself that came up with the idea.
According to the watchmaker’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Biver: “He told us, ‘Please use it to make an advertising campaign because I want to show that I’m courageous.” “I thought, ‘Wow, this guy has some guts.’ “It is also a protestation against violence that we are all afraid of today.”
This relatively unknown firm may well now secure valuable coverage in mainstream media as the talking points propel its brand to the forefront of public discussion.
This is arguably a positive outcome for them. Media coverage may well even prompt those unfamiliar with the campaign to seek it out (as I did) and verbalise their own opinions.
Bad-taste advertising does however also assume a number of risks.
Withdrawal of the advert from media networks is one particularly undesirable outcome given that it could render the money spent on creating the ad wasted. Another possibility is that offensive or annoying ads might encourage viewers not to buy and even avoid the advertised brand. Are these risks worth the possibility of extra publicity?
So do ‘bad’ ads make for good campaigns?
Ads that are simply annoying are unlikely to generate wide scale media coverage or ASA complaints (since they don’t breech responsible/ethical advertising charter). Annoying and boring ads may just slightly decrease viewers’ brand purchase intention – lack of newsworthiness means they are unlikely to extend campaign reach.
Distasteful ads on the other hand could well prevent potential consumers from purchasing a brand’s goods. But importantly, on the flip side, the value of extra media coverage can exponentially increase campaign and band exposure.
It’s a fine balancing act and it will be interesting to see just how Hublot fair with their campaign.
Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training Ltd www.bluewoodtraining.com
Kanye West recently tried to mend his reputation after a string of public outbursts (think George Bush rant, Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards etc etc) with a calm sit-down interview with The Today Show.
Instead, it looks as though he’s only made matters much worse.
First, he lost his temper in the interview. Then ranted about it on twitter. I’m not surprised his media trainer quit.
According to the New York Post, although his image consultants advised him not to do the interview, West decided that he wanted to accept The Today Show’s Matt Lauer’s invitation of an interview to use the opportunity to apologise for criticising George Bush over his reponse to the New Orleans hurricane.
His team hired Susie Arons, executive vice president at Rubenstein Communications to save his media relations. And although she advised West against going through with the piece, Arons received a phone call when West was already at the NBC studios headquarters and about to go ahead with the live interview and so rushed to the studio to help him out.
“West shut himself in a dressing room with Susie, and could be heard rehearsing possible questions and answers. But the interview began, and it was as though he had crammed for a test and then his mind went blank”.
Not only did he go blank, he also completely lost his cool when Lauer played the clip of his interruption of Taylor Swift at the VMAs 2009, in response to which he ranted: “Yo, how am I supposed to talk if you’re going to run the thing in the middle while I’m talking?”
During the break, Arons apparently tried a last minute coaching session with him, but the damage had already been done. The interview aired on the Thursday, and apparently Arons resigned from working with him on Friday morning. Of course, the Today Show refuses to apologise. It’s clear that the fault lies with the rapper.
We’ll see if any of our trainers are free….
Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training Ltd - www.bluewoodtraining.com