Marketing can be fun…it can also be difficult. In my marketing career, I’ve seen, heard, and experienced more advertising than I care to admit. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the R-E-A-L-L-Y ugly!
There are groundbreaking ads like Apple’s “1984″ commercial, which is to this day one of my favorites. (Anyone else get goosebumps watching this?)
There are memorable ads that I can’t begin to tell you what product/service it was promoting just moments after experiencing the ad. There are ho-hum ads that for some reason drive massive sales of a product. And then there are the ads that are downright offensive…whether to our intelligence or to our culture.
What makes marketing difficult is that the definition of “offensive” is in the eye of the beholder, and no ad is without its critics. I, myself, have put a marketing campaign in place that was definitely on the edge. I as the Director of Marketing at www.DefensiveDriving.com, and one of our radio and billboard campaigns was centered around “Give Your Ticket The Finger.”
For anyone that has had a speeding ticket or other moving violation, you know which finger we’re talking about…especially if you were in our target demographic of males 18-45. Yet our company was an ONLINE course for ticket dismissal, so the finger we meant was the mouse finger.
The company was definitely taking a risk with this edgy double entendre. When the marketing campaign launched in several Texas markets, the owner and I braced ourselves for pushback. We only received feedback from one irate individual. To be honest, I was disappointed. Especially after a Houston radio station received so much flack — and free publicity in the media — for one of their billboard campaigns they were forced to remove the billboard. The publicity far outweighed the cost of replacing the billboard.
Real Beauty…Real Marketing?
When Dove launched their “Campaign for Real Beauty” marketing I was thrilled. These controversial ads featured women of varying shapes and sizes – with the exception of the “toothpick-skinny” models featured at the center of every other campaign in the beauty industry. The public loved it or hated it…there was no middle ground. As someone who has been self-conscious about her size since elementary school, I was definitely on Dove’s side for this one!
Sex sells…and marketing is a risque business!
For the past few days, I’ve heard many stories about Abercrombie & Fitch’s latest controversial marketing campaign that promotes “padded” and “push-up” bikini tops. What’s so unusual about that? Why all the controversy? The bikini tops are featured on the Abercrombie Kids website…marketed to girls as young as seven. Even though I’m not a parent, that just seems inappropriate. Yes, I realize that thanks to Sex and the City, MTV, and other media we have 10-year olds dressing like 20-year olds, but whatever happened to being a kid? What’s so wrong with that? Besides, what 7-year old has anything they need to “push up?”
I’ve done my fair share of marketing, and controversial marketing at that. So I want to hear from you. Should we, as marketers, be dedicated to marketing our wares in any way that gets attention, or should we be socially responsible with our marketing?