The F Word (and I don’t mean Festive)

I recently launched into a social rant on my personal blog and decided that I should move over to DEadlines and put on my professional blog hat to pursue the subject in a more measured manner.

Having discussed in a previous DEadlines blog the differences between PR and Marketing, one area where the big hitters such as retail and supermarket chains, car manufacturers or reality TV giants, cleverly and purposefully merge these disciplines is in their advertising. They spend big bucks on campaigns which push boundaries and court controversy and then sit back and watch the media circus do its thing, free of further burden to their budget.
Sainsbury’s 2014 Christmas advert caused uproar with its sentimentalisation of the horrors of WWI, Big Brother has historically reaped the ‘splash’ rewards of pushing the boundaries of racism and homophobia, Toyota somewhat contrarily enticed the would-be customer by suggesting you Go Fun Yourself! and Hollister posters similarly sold T.shirts to teens by speaking their language and asking WTF?
But is it getting boring, do advertising executives need to start thinking outside the box, singing a new tune and basically cleaning up their act?
Nearly 20 years ago, Chris Evans got us filling in the gaps with the title of his new show TFI Friday, and then famously failed (!?) to use the bleeper as Shaun Ryder filled in the gaps himself!
Restaurant chain TGI Fridays followed suit a decade later but were their intentions full of goodness, Godliness or quite simply blasphemous?
This is how it works.
The media moguls push boundaries, the ‘brand’ gets exposure, the people complain, the watchdogs bite, the media wraps it up in sensationalism (which in turn the ‘people’ enjoy), the brand gets more exposure; bingo.
Whether the output is ultimately prohibited or permitted, does it really matter? The deed is done, Aygo sales sky-rocket, Sainsbury’s soars above its rivals, Hollister T.shirts fly off the hangers and everyone hits record so they don’t miss a minute of BB. (Interestingly, there’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to Big Brother – Controversy and Criticism)
As we chip away at the boundaries, how long before the F word is not just an F and the UC and K join it in that order rather than the cheeky French Connection UK way.
Then what of morality and decency? Are they just blown out of the water by a U-turn boat as the watchdogs move the goal posts?
I’m not suggesting we return to the days of Nanette Newman washing up at the kitchen sink but could the advertising world do to clean up its act or should we just say, fuck it, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
For interesting further reading, head HERE.

I’m interested in your opinion on this if you would like to make a comment, thank you.

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