It all started a decade or so ago – all these women phoning me morning, noon and night.
Unfortunately this unprecendented volume of attention from the fairer sex had absolutely squat to do with my extremely well preserved bod and delightfully charming demeanour, and everything to do with male abuse.
They were sick and tired, every woman, Jill of them, with ads that went to town on the theme of a revenged-crazed bimbo getting her own back on some por sod.
The ad that triggered it all was what I thought was a really great campaign from Standard Merchant Bank highlighting how great ideas didn’t nesessarily come out of offices. This particular commercial showed a calm but clearly hugely pissed off blonde putting salami into her ex’s CD player and stuffing raw prawns into the cushions of his sofa.
Now every woman who phoned me was determined to make the point that (a) she was sick of man-bashing ads; (b) the majority of women did not hate men; (c) the majority of women were not firebrand, bra-burning women’s libbers and (d) what warped minds were pervading the ad industry with the notion that the majority of women think and act this way?
None of the callers mentioned that old deodorant ad featuring a hormone-brained dickhead getting ready for his wedding and having all those flashbacks of the erotic times he had with girlfriend No 1 while girlfriend No 2 was waiting on the steps of the church. He then has the exceedingly bad grace to drive past the church and chuck his buttonhole flower into the road as he passed the bridal party. He might just as well have given her the finger.
Now, perhaps all my callers didn’t mention that ad because they didn’t want to detract from the male bashing variety.
Interestingly enough though, I gave that ad the thumbs down at the time, not because it offended me that one of my own kind could be so incredibly insensitive, callous and unbelievably naïve over what marriage and relationships are all about, but because intelligent marketing people actually believe that this kind of scenario can sell products.
And this is what the issue is all about. Marketing.
Not offensive ads, knocking ads or derogatory ads. But whether ads do the job or not.
And the specific working component of advertising we are talking about here is emotion. Unless I’ve missed something such as overwhelming research showing that appealling to human emotions is no longer relevant in advertising, then I really must question the use of all this negativity.
And revenge is seriously negative. It is also not something that creates a nice warm feeling about a brand. Even when it is funny.
What is happening, I think, is that a lot of people in our ad industry are becoming more and more conscious of the increasing amount of advertising clutter. And, in an effort to break through all this and get the attention of the market, they are turning to the unusual, the provocative and often, the shocking, in order to get noticed.
And elements such as negative emotion creep in almost coincidentally.
But, getting noticed is not what advertising is all about. And the pressure on the ad industry to achieve this is not internal but mostly I suspect, from clients – the majority of whom are not prepared to go out on a limb and make serious commitments and promises to customers but rather try and stick to looking as though they ‘care’.
Leaving the poor creatives with absolutely nothing to ‘sell’ to the market but empty cliches with the result that they end up having to try and impress prospective customers with the message alone. And no wonder that at the end of it all the market just reacts by shooting the poor old messenger.
There is only one way out of this and that is for those who take on the responsibility of creating advertising to put their creative feet down and insist on clients making some sort of saleable commitment.
Because right now an awful amount of money is being wasted on advertising that does nothing more than persude the consumer to pick up the phone and call me.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk
IMAGE: National Coalition For Men (San Diego, US)
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