When Advertising Goes Wrong: Part Two

What happens when a creative comes up with a bad idea? They more likely than not, get shot down. Probably by their creative partner, or a creative director, or if the idea has gone that far, then the client will shoot them down. What happens when everyone involved thinks it’s a good idea? The piece in question will run, and that’s where you can run into a few problems.

Advertising is littered with examples or poorly written, poorly designed, poorly directed, and poorly implemented pieces of work. I bet if I asked you right this second to think of one advert you truly despise, you probably could, and quickly too… How many of you went for the ‘Go Compare’ series of television advertisements? A few months ago, I would have joined you! That is, I would have done, if it weren’t for the absolutely, fantasticaly, self aware ‘silent movie’ spin off. Sorry to get you excited, but there will be a blog post about the Go Compare ads at a later date. Today’s post is all about cry sheets. That’s right; Kleenex.

Credit where credit is due. Thanks JWT, our art director, Christiano Neves and copywriter, Bruno Xavier!

A simple enough television advert right? The grumpy, blocked up nose witch, is getting a mood on, because she whistles when she breathes in, and because of that, she’s taking it out on the poor old world. Suddenly, she finds a giant roll of Kleenex, gives her nose a blow, and the world is well again! That’s because the tissues are soaked in Balsam oil, and that helps clear the nasal passages allowing her to breathe. Well that was easy to explain, and probably simpler to watch. Sorry if you think I was taking the piss, but I needed to clarify something! There was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing offensive, and nothing unusual about that T.V ad.

It wasn’t particularly bad, it wasn’t particularly good, and it certainly wasn’t worth of the titled of badvertising. I knew all of this, but just wanted to take you on a little journey. The problem I have with this series of adverts, is the press that accompanies the campaign.

I saw that image in the metro, and it’s basically a screen cap of the television ad with a reworked tag line. There’s nothing wrong with that right? Surely not! What would be the point in using a completely different campaign approach for press, when you already have a working one for television! Again, that’s not my gripe with this advert. In fact, as I’ve already stated, there isn’t anything particularly wrong with this ad, just in my opinion there’s a bit of a fuck up with some art direction in the press ads.

What on earth am I getting at I hear you all scream! Well. Look closely. Look really close. Have you spotted it yet? I’ve shown it to a number of people, and about 50% got it, while the others wondered why I was wasting their precious lunch hour. Maybe it’s something to do with the shape of the toilet roll our angry blocked up witch is flying into? Still not got it? Well let me show you what I saw;

That’s right. Not only is our blocked up nose witch, a bit of a word that sounds like witch, but she’s also, a terrorist!

Okay, okay. You can stop your laughter. I know I may have stretched the truth a little bit, but if you scroll up to the clean version of the advert, you’ll be hard put not to see a couple of buildings instead of the two balsam soaked ‘happy catchers’. Obviously this wasn’t the intent of the advertising agency, I mean who condones terrorism these days (Rhetorical question, please do not send your answers on a postcard as I’ll assume they’re made out of anthrax), but it’s moments like this when you begin to hope someone, somewhere, should have noticed this little snaffoo. Sure, it’s not obvious, but I shouldn’t be able to draw some boxes with a pencil, and recreate 9/11 in the pages of my morning newspaper.

The general public complain. They complain about everything. I bet I could send this in to the Daily Mail, and have thousands of grannies scribbling letters to the ASA demanding that every copy of this press ad be burnt at a stake somewhere. Just look at what happened with Johnathon Ross and Russell Brand. No one even listened to that show, and it got the bumming of a life time! I’m not going to send it off of course, because then I’d have to burn my blog, and I’m doing quite well so far, but again, the point I’m trying to make is that someone, somewhere, from the original inception of this idea, through to the finished product, should have seen it. Maybe they did, and realised that only lonely, sad, bored, out-of-work, never-been-employed, bitter creatives would see the resemblance. Maybe they didn’t see it at all. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it! Maybe there isn’t actually an advertising campaign at all, and I’ve drawn all of this with crayon and my own faeces on the back of a letter from the council. Who knows?!

I think what I’m trying to get at, is that advertisers need to have a sense of responsibility. We can’t go about plastering our streets with tits and wounds, like some cheap magazine found in the locker of an amateur footballer, and we have to be careful about what do plaster about. Mind you, there’s a fine line between being careful, and banning conkers because some child jammed one into his own eye, or banning a tango advert because kids might recreate ‘being tangoed’ and burst a few eardrums. Even so. Audiences at the moment have more of an outlet to complain than they ever have done before. If someone doesn’t like something, they’ll tell a lot of people. Be it through facebook, twitter, blogs, or just plain shouting on the top level of a 142 bus. Just look at Dan Simpson and Ian Dransfield! They’re both bitter, complaining men, and they’re hilarious at what they do.

Sure it works the other way around, but who really likes reading positive reviews? In an age where everything is available at the click of a finger, why do you want to make someone feel better about themselves, when you can make yourself feel better by making someone else worse!

Obviously I’ve taken this argument way further than it should have ever gone. The blocked-up nose witch isn’t really flying her broom on a mad suicide mission, into the hundred storey, ‘double quilted’ twin towers, but I still wonder that if I’ve seen it, someone else must have too, and word of mouth is a dangerous thing. If you’re a worried creative, give your work to your little brother, and see if he can make it into a penis, or give it to a jaded, unemployed creative, and see if he can waffle on about it for 1,000 words plus. If they can, then you’ve got a little problem on your hands; you’re probably a terrorist.

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6 thoughts on “When Advertising Goes Wrong: Part Two

  1. Pete Davison says:

    Have I taken you over the edge into unprecedented viewer-count territory? I do hope so.

    Great post. Made me giggle and made a good point. I’d like to add my name to the “bitter, complaining man” registry, too.

    • You have indeed pushed me over into my highest ever visited day! Thanks very much.

      It’s always nice to know people find my writing enjoyable, as it’s always the one thing I’ve kept private throughout my life.

  2. […] that in my ‘When Advertising Goes Wrong’ posts. So far I’ve touched on Andrex, Kleenex, Frosties, GoCompare, and finally the new Dead Space 2 campaign. Ten years ago you wouldn’t […]

  3. […] that in my ‘When Advertising Goes Wrong’ posts. So far I’ve touched on Andrex, Kleenex, Frosties, GoCompare, and finally the new Dead Space 2 campaign. Ten years ago you wouldn’t […]

  4. […] not a stranger to art-direction snaffoos as you can know from the time I likened the kleenex witch to a terrorist. Funnily enough, this actually came up in an interview for a copywriter I had last week and I still […]

  5. […] not a stranger to art-direction snaffoos as you can know from the time I likened the kleenex witch to a terrorist. Funnily enough, this actually came up in an interview for a copywriter I had last week and I still […]

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