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Entries in Advertising (20)


Advertisements that take it too far

Advertisements have the ability to be clever, creative and entertaining. Occasionally however, advertisers take it too far and create an advertisement which pushes the boundaries and offends. There is a fine line between artistic and offensive.

This topic has been in the media a lot this year with The Morning Show in particular examining a number of notably controversial advertisements that have caused outrage (you can view full segments below). I joined them to discuss the world-wide criticism these controversial campaigns have received and the place they have in the advertising world.

In February of this year NEO Property gained notoriety after they emailed their newest property listing of a house to 100 clients. It featured a video clip complete with music, images of the property and images of a model - peeling her clothes off inside the property. Narrated by agents Ian Adams and Adrian Jenkins, it was one minute and 25 seconds of innuendo, double entendre and close-ups. Needless to say the video quickly went viral for all the wrong reasons and NEO Property were accused of taking the real-estate industry to a new low.

Similarly, Yoplait came under criticism for their campaign advertising their new ‘light’ product line. Instead of promoting sex, the advertisement was accused of supporting eating disorders, bad eating habits and negative weight loss ideas. Critics claimed that it validated and legitimised some very unhealthy thinking patterns through encoding them in an advertisement. Have a look at the advertisement below and make up your own mind.

If you can’t view the video - click here -

This advertisement was actually pulled from air and this powerful decision has set a precedent in the American advertising industry. The difference with this advertisement compared to other low-fat food advertisements is that it focused on the stress and anger of the woman and her negative view of food as ‘the enemy’. The casting of the advertisement was also questioned, with two slim actresses being cast in roles where they are either obsessed with losing weight or praised for having noticeably lost weight.

In my opinion this was an overreaction, and a decision like this probably would not have been made in Australia. The Yoplait advertisement was creative and transformed a complex issue (how to improve your lifestyle) into a simple one (eat Yoplait light yoghurt). When it comes to the amount of restrictions and regulations placed on advertisers we need to be careful not to limit creativity and innovation.

Finally last month, Canadian-based ‘Fluid Hair Salon’ launched their new “Look good in all you do campaign”. It comprised of a series of images which featured well-dressed women in various situations all under the tag, “Look good in all you do." The below image in-particular received world-wide criticism for glamorising domestic violence. While they may have had the best of intentions, I don't think they put a lot of consideration into what key message was being communicated.

Fluid Hair received death threats and the salon itself was vandalised in response to the advertisements. Eventually Fluid Hair was forced to pull the advertisements from print.


The above examples only represent a small number of advertising campaigns that have gone too far, and I know you will be able to think of many more that have shocked and offended. There needs to be a balance between creativity, entertainment and responsibility. Below are a few simple questions you can ask yourself when creating your advertising campaign to avoid making the same mistake.

1. Who is your audience? Be aware of those groups in society who are more vulnerable and may intentionally/unintentionally see your message.

2. What is your key message? Keep it simple and direct.

3. What does the advertisement focus on? Do you promote healthy thinking and positive messages?

4. What are your motives for executing your advertisement in a certain way? Is the aim to promote your message or to push the boundaries to gain media attention?

For more insights check out the segments from The Morning Show below and make up your own mind - do you think the advertisements pushed the boundaries or were they simply artistic expression?

If you can’t view the video - click here -

The transcript for the segment is below.

If you can’t view the video - click here -


Kylie Gillies A new viral advertising campaign by Gold Coast Real Estate agents Neo Property is sending hearts racing with an open inspection of a very different kind.

Larry Edmur That whirring sound is probably your hard drive about to smoke.

Adrian Jenkins: Because on the Gold Coast, property isn't the only thing that's going off.

Speaker 4: Their sexy marketing strategy is grabbing attention and headlines for featuring a female model undressing in various parts of this unique property.

Larry Edmur Now we have your attention.

Adrian Jenkins: Do you want to buy a house?

Larry Edmur Quite obviously, we're not talking about any ordinary homes. (singing)

Speaker 4: Neo Property says the ad was not made with the intention to offend, and is just kind of one of those tongue-in-cheek commercials to get the property some exposure. It has done that. For more on this, we're joined now from the Gold Coast by Adrian Jenkins from Neo Property, and in Sydney, marketing expert Matthew Bywater from 4Promote. Good morning to you both. Adrian, first up, what was your thinking behind the ad? Let's get to the bottom of this.

Adrian Jenkins: Good morning to start with. The whole premise behind it was to actually start reaching beyond the, perhaps more traditional seams to find buyers, and we wanted to make sure that we could provide a video that was more than just a tour, something that actually became a bit more of an entertainment process, to allow it to get passed on. And we've achieved that by going overseas.

Kylie Gillies Okay. You're certainly getting lots of exposure about this. One article, if I can put it to you, described it as a new low for real estate agents. How do you respond to that?

Adrian Jenkins: A very interesting comment, I suppose. If you actually read the body text that's associated with that headline, it doesn't reflect the headline at all. I don't see it as a low at all actually. I think it's just looking at approaching things with a slightly different attitude.

Larry Edmur All right. Matthew, let's bring you in here. Sex sells, has done since day dot. What do you make of this strategy?

Matthew Bywater: It's a, yeah, it's a classic guerrilla marketing strategy where we try to sort of camouflage to product we're selling partly by in this case, humor and partly by shock. What's interesting about it is I think it's definitely got the viral capacity they're after, I mean this morning on YouTube it had over 30,000 hits. I think they had 89 likes, 23 dislikes. So the stats on YouTube as far as a viral campaign are certainly working. The question is, does it fit the brand, and does it fit the brand that you need in real estate? I guess that's the number one question we need here, and time will tell on that.

Kylie Gillies Alrighty. Well do you think it fits your brand Adrian? Because you wouldn't want to damage your brand, Neo Property. Is this what Neo Property stands for.

Adrian Jenkins: Well Neo Property first and foremost stands for selling houses. And overridingly, the objective is to reach a buyer. I think it'd be fair to say that as long as we've managed to achieve that, the brand is kind of secondary. That's not to dismiss it, but we have an obligation and a GT of care, if you like, to the vendors to make sure that we spend their money wisely and that we make sure that we reach as many potential buyers as possible. And that's proving to be the case by having people stepping forward with contracts in the first instance.

Speaker 4: Has it worked?

Adrian Jenkins: Until the vendor actually accepts a contract, obviously the overriding objective is to sell, but the fact is we've got contracts on the table. It's a question of now whether we accept those.

Kylie Gillies Okay. Matthew, let's go back to you. One of the reasons why the company did this was because they didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on marketing, so this thing went viral. That's kind of smart business, isn't it?

Matthew Bywater: Yeah, very well done. And this is the way that a lot of people are trying to market their business now, is by going viral. It is certainly the most cost-effective way. There's another add on here too, is that when you look on, they've also had some hits on Facebook where people have grabbed it off YouTube, sent to their friends on Facebook, and what this has done is not only giving the viral campaign greater capacity and greater spread, but what has done is given a quasi-endorsement. Because if I send it from myself to one friend, then I'm almost endorsing not only the product, in this case the house, but also the company. So yeah, as far as the spread goes, I think it's doing really well.

Speaker 4: Interesting stuff. And we're seeing plenty of this stuff going around. Adrian and Matthew, thank you very much for your time this morning, guys. Appreciate that.

Matthew Bywater: Thank you very much.

Kylie Gillies Adrian, let us know when the ink is dry on that contract, won't you?

Adrian Jenkins: For sure. Yeah. We'll be the first ones to let you know.

Speaker 4: Or when you're launching your next viral campaign, let us know on that then too.

Adrian Jenkins: Oh, there's one coming. Okay.

Speaker 4: Yeah, I'll bet there is. Okay moving on now.