Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Communication Strategy, Corporate Evil, Crap Marketing Ideas From History!, Creativity, Family, Marketing, Marketing Fail, Only In Adland, Parents, Social Media, Standards
So writing a post this topical is a new experience for me, but I saw an ad being posted over and over again on social media this past weekend and I had to write about it.
This is the ad …
Now I admit, when I first saw it, I smiled and thought it was mildly humourous and then I realised what I was looking at was a company being massively exploitative and basically horrible.
This airline is using the break-up of a family … a family involving 6 kids … as an opportunity to try and flog their airline tickets.
Think about that for a moment.
Sure, the parents involved in the ad are huge celebrities … but does that give a company the right to literally piss on their pain for their own gain?
I don’t think so.
Imagine if someone did that to you in your moment of sadness.
Your marriage breaks up.
You lose your job.
A loved one dies.
I pretty much doubt you’d let a family member make a joke like that, let alone a total stranger.
Of course the marketing community will say I’m being a miserable old bastards and say this is a great example of being a ‘challenger brand’ or ‘cultural hijacking’ but that’s because a lot of the marketing community are a bunch of empathy devoid fucks who don’t know what the hell they are talking about.
Most of my career has been connected to challenger brands – and I’ve done more than my share of cultural hijacking – but I’ve never done work where I used an individual persons tragedy to big my client up … especially when my client and the individuals involved have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
Is taking the piss out of companies who have done wrong, fair game?
Is taking the piss out of people who have a reputation for a particular behaviour fair game?
Maybe … in very specific circumstances.
But even if the CEO of Hitler Industries endured a personal tragedy, I would never advocate using that as a platform to flog some airline tickets because if you have no empathy or standards, why do you think anyone should have it towards you.
Imagine if a Swedish Airline ran this ad after the terrible 2011 massacre in Norway:
Do you think Norwegian Airlines would be happy?
Do you think they’d say it was unprofessional and in terrible, terrible taste?
I am pretty sure they would, but it seems that rule would only apply if it concerns their wellbeing.
Of course some will say, “but the ad’s worked because people are talking about it” … but there’s 2 responses to that.
1. Awareness doesn’t mean effectiveness.
Given the ad is all about trying to flog some tickets to the US, it can only be deemed successful if they sold out. [And even that is open to intreptation given they may have only put a few tickets on ‘sale prices’ to justify the ad]
2. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
I know you may think I’m going on and on about this, but if this kind of work becomes acceptable, where does the line get drawn?
More than that, if this sort of work becomes your baseline, what do you think people will think of you?
Sure, they may find you amusing, but does that mean they will want to give you their money.
Many years ago I was working with a big global consumer electronics brand that kept talking about wanting to do ads using Mr Bean because of the shows popularity in their market.
It was only when we pointed out that while people may like Mr Bean, how many would trust his advice to spend US$10,000 on a television.
I get the first rule for communication is to get noticed … but if revelling in others misery or misfortune becomes your schtick, then don’t start crying when people start turning on you. Just look at GREY FOR GOOD if you want more proof of that happening.
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