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Advertising Goes Cray-Cray

May 11th, 2013

Mountain Dew recently dropped this controversial ad that featured a battered waitress trying to pick her assailant from a lineup of black suspects and a goat.

One could be forgiven these days for turning to the astrology section of their local paper, or a curious nod to the evening sky to see whether a full moon was in effect. Everything just seems more random, lacking any ability to forecast or predict.

Today’s front page of The New York Times reports that the level of carbon dioxide has passed a long-feared milestone. Gas concentration in our atmosphere has not been this high in at least three million years, before humans even evolved. There’s no longer any question whether carbon emissions are contributing to a rise in sea level and climate change.

If there’s a sense of the end being near, it certainly is not being helped by the progressively bizarre wave of advertising that seems to have taken root.

Trying to Be Hip and Edgy, Ads Become Offensive

According to Stuart Elliott, advertising is increasingly offensive — mostly because agencies are under so much pressure to break through the clutter, but there are also other considerations that are pushing agencies to take these risks on behalf of their clients.

The past decade has ushered in a whole new era of stranger-than-fiction concepts. Much of this is driven by the massive number of outlets and channels, the overwhelming amount of corporate brand messages being blasted from every corner, every second of our lives. But according to Tor Myhren, chief creative officer at Grey New York, it’s also intended to find ways to resonate with Millennials — who grew up in a world of digital media and random, sometimes bizarre, images.

Bob Garfield, an advertising critic and author of the book, “Can’t Buy Me Like,” says that the situation is propelled by a “no holds barred” Internet culture on which Millennials seem to gravitate and respond. “There’s a sense of permissiveness that is subsequently allowing poor decisions by agencies, marketers and corporate brand managers,” says Garfield.

Nancy Hill, President and Chief Executive at the 4A’s, says that the “race to retweet and to click thumbs up” overwhelms the impulse to take a step back and make sure the ad is crafted exactly the way you want it to be received.

How effective are these advertising campaigns, and what is the risk to companies that don’t entirely think through the expression of their brands? I invite your opinion on this Blog or through email. Send me a note and share your thoughts at

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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 11th, 2013 at 4:46 pm and is filed under Advertising, Brand Image, Business, Customer Experience, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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