'Making fun' in advertsing.

A minefield for advertising campaigns or about how to shoot yourself in the foot.

"Funny" ads or commercials.

On several occasions I had a chance to report about advertising pitfalls, showing how risky it is when a campaign tries to rely on fun or to use a ‘humorous approach’ to a critical topic.
Unfortunately, there is no accounting for what the targeted public will consider as ‘funny’ and no guarantee as to how a playful headline will be perceived on the Destinee’s side.

How things can go wrong.

Here is another example of how a humorous intent turned into a nightmare for the advertiser.
A Danish company producing and distributing jewelry decided to run an outdoor campaign in Italy to draw attention to its products in the light of the approaching Christmas festivities.
To the purpose, the advertiser plastered the subway tunnels in Milan with posters featuring the following headline:
“An iron, a pyjamas, an apron, a (brand XYZ) bracelet. What do you think would make her happy?”  

What do you think happened, when the posters went up?

The Net Community took immediately notice and voiced harsh criticism about the headline, considering it as inappropriate and sexist.

Rushing for damage control.

Confronted with such – apparently unexpected – reaction, the advertiser rushed to offer his apologies.
In a first press release, he acknowledged the critical comments and outlined that the campaign’s sense and intentions had been misunderstood. Therefore, the company went on to explain that it did obviously care a lot about female customers and had meant to help them finding the right present under the Christmas tree. The promotional initiative actually originated from research showing that women mostly receive the wrong gift. Hence, the campaign and its questioned headline and - to close the issue – the sincere wish to receive” exactly what you wanted.”

Wrong move!

The Net Community did not appreciate the reference to the ‘incorrect understanding’ of the headline’s true intention and – once more – made its disagreement clear.

Next move, a strong apology.

The company issued a new press release, adding the following further explanation to “share its point of view” with the Community. The idea behind the campaign was to play panders, in an ironic, humorous – and not offensive – way, to some well-known gender stereotypes and to “generate a smile”. Unfortunately, some passages of the first explanatory press release had been extrapolated from their context, leading to interpretations contrary to the company’s real intention. Hence an apology to all those who had felt offended in their sensitivity.

Before giving your 'GO' to an ad campaign, consider all potential implications.

A truly bad outcome for what was meant to start off as a little fun around a gender stereotype. Brand image is an invaluable asset to a business. Therefore, advertisers think, think and think again, before you sign off on a campaign!