Entries in Controversial Ads (1)

Thursday
Jul092009

Creepy, Crazy or Innovative?

I was Facebooking yesterday and a friend posted a link to some vintage advertisements (by vintage, I mean old...)  These ads were authentic, not photoshopped, and some are for companies that are still around today.  Check these out!

While reviewing these old ads, several thoughts came to mind.

1) Wow!  These are not politically correct at all!  There's one ad about chubby-sized kids.  Are you kidding me?  This would never fly these days!  (By the way, there's also an ad with a man spanking his wife because she didn't store-test the coffee before she bought it- I'm not joking...)

2) There was another particularly disturbing image- I warn you- it's a little gross.

I think this is French...?  Any translators out there??  Anyhow, I'm sure the French are more understanding and contemporary than us (European advertising has always been a little more on the risqué side...) but this begs the question- if we use more daring imagery in our advertising, thus provoking an emotional reaction, be it good or bad, is this a good thing for our business?

There have been several ad campaigns lately that are so out there that they are covered by the news.  Usually controversial- PETA always has naked chicks in their ads, and then there is the campaign portraying a bound Jessica Alba:

It's a youth voting ad. 

So take what these campaigns have done, or tried to do, and apply it to your company.  Would the image of a woman digging her nails into a man's back for a nail care line attract more attention than a simple image of healthy nails on their own?  How about the image of a coach using a whip to get results from athletes as an ad for a competitive gymnasium?

By the way, I have both a nail care line and a competitive gym as clients, and I don't recommend this course of action for either of their businesses.

Here's my professional opinion:  Yes, ultimately, allowing your marketing company to create an emotionally provocative ad may initially seem like a good idea because your company WILL get more attention this way.  These ads DO create a buzz and get people talking.  Especially now with the Internet, ads like the ones I've shown above will be seen hundreds (if not thousands!) more times than if they were simply printed in a few newspapers or magazines like in the old days.

However, I DO NOT recommend this course of action for the majority of my clients because typically, creating an ad like this can potentially turn more people OFF than on.  Additionally, there's a question of ethics and morals.  Professionalism is one of the top reasons that people will become repeat customers, and these kind of ads ruin a "clean" reputation, and these companies and organizations instantly become controversial.

Not to type cast, but if you're in the fashion or food industry, 99.9% of the time, controversial is THE ONLY way to go.