Some of you may remember my older post about offensive advertisements. As clear, straightforward, and obvious as the offenses may be, apparently some major brands still need a refresher course on what constitutes a tasteful ad. Sure, these ads will be remembered, but not for the products or services they depict.
While an offensive ad could potentially draw more attention to your brand, it could also violate your existing customers and challenge their brand loyalty. To ensure your ad campaign’s success, keep these three tips in mind.
Lesson #1 – Don’t violate your target audience.
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to get healthier. However, there is a right and wrong way to go about it, and the Ad Council went about it all wrong with this ad. Instead of sending out a positive, encouraging message, this ad only encourages women to have a negative, shameful attitude towards their bodies. Instead of focusing on healthy choices for the sake of being healthy, this ad encourages women to make healthier choices so that they can look more like the supermodels they see everywhere in the media. It is important to have a grasp on message you are trying to get across to your target audience, so that you can create an ad that accomplishes the right goals.
Lesson #2 – Don’t enforce stereotypes.
When the California Milk Processor Board launched their “Everything I Do is Wrong Campaign,” which featured print ads and a website, they received flak from many bloggers. The campaign reaches out to males struggling with their girlfriends’ PMS symptoms by claiming that milk can help reduce the symptoms. The corresponding website provided a forum for men to discuss their raging girlfriends, make apology videos, This ad is a 2-for-1 stereotype special: first, the bumbling idiot who has no idea how to handle women, and second, the woman who turns into a psychotic monster once a month.
Needless to say, women a.k.a the ones who are usually purchasing the milk, were not impressed. After about a week, the website redirected visitors to GotDiscussion.org, which posted an apology and links to different sites’ reactions to the campaign (both positive and negative).
There are so many things wrong with this ad besides the simple fact that it perpetuates the stereotype that fashion models are all on crack. How old are those girls? 16? Something tells me that encouraging 16 year old girls to start snorting cocaine is a bad plan. This ad says nothing about the services that Sisley offers – do they sell clothes? Is it a magazine? All that is implied by this ad is that they endorse cocaine. Is that a message that you want associated with your brand? I don’t think so.
Lesson #3: Pay Attention to the Language.
Nivea really crossed the line with this print ad as part of their “Look Like You Give a Damn Campaign” back in August. This ad, maybe unintentionally, implies that African American men with afros and beards are uncivilized. The man can become a civilized member of society by getting a clean-cut haircut and by using Nivea’s products, of course! This ad was part of a larger campaign, but this particular ad was the only one to feature the tagline “Re-civilize yourself.” With a different tagline, this could have been a successful ad, but that tagline paired with the image makes this ad highly offensive.
Here are 7 other examples of advertising gone wrong:
And last, but certainly not least, take a look at this throwback – an extremely inappropriate ad for Sega’s joystick controller. Yikes!
The brand names above may be remembered, but they will be remembered because they ran an offensive ad, not because someone went out and bought their product and then recommended it to all of their friends. Instead of wasting money on advertisements that were pulled from the public eye almost instantly, these brands could have better spent their time and resources developing a more clever, creative campaign that accurately depicted their products.
What do you think? Do you think these ads cross the line? Have you ever stopped buying from a particular brand due to an offensive advertisement? What other ad campaigns have offended you?