Do you remember that ad that was pulled because it was racially insensitive?
How about the one that offended women? Or what about the one that outraged parents? The fact is that in an attempt to be creative, sometimes prudence goes out the window and what should have been an amazing campaign, ends up in a formal apology from a spokesperson.
Some might argue that any press is good press. Others say we are too sensitive, but I’d argue that many of those backlash campaigns just didn’t have enough eyes on them.
The truth is that in the making of an ad campaign it’s no one’s goal to offend an entire gender group or a specific demographic. I can’t imagine anyone spends a good portion of their marketing budget to put out an ad campaign that they eventually have to end up pulling and apologizing for later.
It’s a fine line though, no one wants to make a boring ad and you can never make everyone happy. Additionally the world of creative marketing is aggressive and competitive and often results in pushing the line just a tad bit more every time.
In the design and creative process of a campaign it’s easy to fall in love with certain concepts to the point where one gets carried away. Even then, during an approval phase there are possibilities for red flags – a safety net, if you will. The problem is that the approval phase often goes through a chain of command with executives with some of the thickest skin. So your lawyer gave it a green light? I’ve never known lawyers to have a reputation of being sensitive. If you have any doubt about a campaign you may want to try an alternative and run the ad by your accounting or IT department. What does the receptionist think? After much deliberation you may still want to take the risk, but you have to ask yourself is this offensive but still effective messaging or can your campaign be misinterpreted completely? Think of the differences. Are you going to offend women by portraying them as nagging their husbands? Or did your campaign just get misinterpreted to say rape is okay or a woman’s fault? See the difference? One can upset women; one can lose women as clients. Some can just remain in a grey area like the Juicy Lucy controversy.
So next time you brainstorm for a creative campaign ask yourself, would this offend someone, in what ways can this get misinterpreted and is it worth it?
If you can’t tell, ask a Prude, get their take and then weigh the options.
What do you think about these ads attached? Are they too offensive or are people too sensitive?