Filed under: Comment
Yes I’m back.
No, it wasn’t a holiday like you all think it was.
Can we all just move on? Please?
So a few weeks ago, when I was in Australia, I was in a cab when I saw this:
As you can tell from the photo, I was in a cab so I only saw it for a few seconds, but I was surprised to learn that it was actually an ad for quitting smoking than quitting drugs.
Of course, both are filthy, dangerous habits … but the headline, the picture of a sweating man with a pained impression on his face, the overall bleakness of the ad made it feel it was far more about heroin usage rather than cigarettes.
Now I appreciate that some people view smoking as being ‘less dangerous’ than hard drugs and that by creating an ad that communicates it in the same way, they might be helping reframe people’s opinion but I still think it’s wrong.
We see so many ads these days that we self filter.
It’s as if our brain has developed an internal firewall to ignore the things we don’t relate to.
For some brands/agencies, they think that means they have to be more and more extreme to ‘cut through’ and while there is an argument for that, I believe brands just have to be more and more relevant to the audience they’re targeting.
Play in their World.
Speak ‘to’ rather than ‘at’ them.
Ads like the one above seem to be doing none of that … it feels its goal is to communicate what the Government want to say rather than what might actually connect with people who want to stop but don’t know how to.
In fact, I’d argue that the ad might actually be being more effective at grabbing the attention of drug addicts than cigarette smokers. Or at least the cliche definition of what a drug addict looks like.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking …
Given I noticed this poster and yet have never taken a drug or had a cigarette in my life [I know I look like a alcoholic, 40-a-day, coke-snorter, but I’m not] I’m sort of undermining my own argument … and that’s a very good point … however I’d say that while there are occasions when people need to be ‘shocked’ out of their mindset, where cigarettes and drugs are concerned, this ‘fear inflation’ might not be the best strategy for substance abuse because after years of slowing turning up the ‘shock heat’ on these people, they’ve been ‘trained’ to either ignore the ads or ignore the shock tactics.
By the way, if any government out there needs a campaign to try and stop drug abuse, get in touch because I have an awesome one that the Australian Government were too frightened to use in 2003. Which is kind-of ironic, given it’s using comedy and music rather than fear.
And yes, I do realise how utterly futile typing that last sentence was, thank you very much.
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