Carefree Actifresh – The “Vagina” Word TV ad

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Much of my recent postings have been around the subject of “taste”.

This is taste in terms of what advertising should and shouldn’t say and suggest around traditionally taboo subjects. As well as examples of poor taste propped up by the excuse of irreverence and tongue in cheek (Lynx being a shocker)

Some would argue that taste is a subjective measure of what we as individuals deem appropriate as advertising.

I think that the question of taste or advertising standards is more than that. We need to arbitrate in these matters on behalf of the mass market majority who are exposed to the advertising – particularly when it is on TV. Rather than crushing creativity, this should actually prompt more ingenious, imaginative solutions to communication.

The creative community can argue that we should break these taboos – use the word vagina when discussing feminine hygiene. Show explicit imagery to demonstrate problems (accidents / disease etc). Many might suggest that we are lessening the creative impact by embargoing these words and images.

At the risk of sounding conservative on creativity, I don’t agree.

I think that this ad is a beautifully produced ad. It captures the attention and the dialogue is relevant and motivating to the target. The last thing it needed was the seemingly gratuitous inclusion of the word vagina. I don’t think this inclusion adds anything to comprehension or awareness of the message. It just shocks the casual viewer, as in “did they just say that”?

Are we to imagine that the target didn’t get the message and needed to be alerted to it through hearing vagina in the monologue?

In the words of Johnson & Johnson:

“We have decided to take a bold approach in this campaign with the aim to tackle a subject which has always been taboo.”

I don’t think the language is going to make this a bold ad on a taboo subject.

There is a lot of debate on it at present. Daye Moffitt, brand strategy director at creative agency Moon, offered a female perspective.

“Personally, it makes me cringe, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and I do think it is a good strategy. The shock tactic helps with getting young women to listen up – it gets their attention in a very loud marketplace.  It’s an effective and memorable ad, certainly.”

With the greatest respect to Daye, I think that cringe is the issue – imagine how parents with teenage boys respond when they hear it.

As anticipated the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau has received over 30 complaints since the ad first screened on Sunday evening. A spokesperson for the ASB said:

 “Most of the complaints are about the terminology that’s used and the nakedness of the woman,”

Interesting that the nudity got so much attention, suggesting how conservative our viewers really are.

The creative challenge reaches beyond the use of explicit or provocative language. And “vagina” can be considered as explicit language to many in the mass market living rooms.

Creativity needs to find new ways of reaching into the consciousness of viewers. Ways that don’t rely on gimmicks, tricks and controversy.

The ad is good, not great, and the inclusion of the word vagina merely serves to draw attention to the word not the problem or brand. Probably at the cringing discomfort of many women who would rather not shout it loud and proud from the living room floor.

These women are after all the target market and discretion in communication is perhaps more relevant and motivating than the vagina monologue.

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Berocca 50+ “Performance yes, Miracles no” TV ad

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Seeing this again still makes me grin and reminds me of why The Campaign Palace was such an innovative agency.

A tongue in cheek dig at the greying market and with a tone of voice and execution that makes it memorable.

Relevant, interesting and perhaps more motivating than the usual dreary in-kitchen vitamin taking to look after the Grand-kids sort of approach.

Great work from the now closing Campaign Palace. Palace chief creative officer Reed Collins:

“In the all too dreary world of pharmaceutical advertising Berocca really stands out. The new Berocca Focus 50+ campaign is refreshingly honest for the category and it’s audience.”

CCO: Reed Collins
ACD: Gerhard Myburgh
AD: Andrew Jones
CW: Hywel James, Paul Bootlis
Producer: Jacqui Gillies
Production Co: Film Construction
Director: Steve Saussey
Producer: Sascha Hodgson
Editor: Gabi Muir
Group Account director: Bruce Davidson
National Marketing Manager: George Reeves
Senior Brand Manager: Nick Lynch
Brand Manager: Kylie Berge

Stonemen “striptease” afternoon delight underwear ad

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Some controversy is bubbling up in marketing circles.

Recently there has been much discussion at how safe (vs shocking) advertising has become. If shock tactics work, how far can you go (ref the latest Amnesty International work)? Are shock tactics (sex, violence or otherwise) the lowest common denominator and lacking any true creativity?

This is where the advertising standards bureau plays a role. The problem is that the rise of the viral marketing campaign and the lack of a traditional TV ad leaves them in limbo and potentially powerless to act.

One thing is for certain, this campaign is creating brand fame for an otherwise unknown underwear brand called Stonemen.

As reported in B&T magazine, the ad asks the user to take a webcam headshot of themselves which is then overlayed on the face of a Stonemen underwear model in the featured magazine, with the user thereby becoming the object of the woman’s sexual fantasy.

Media personality and founder of women’s advocacy group Collective Shout, Melinda Tankard Reist, today told B&T she thought the campaign was backward and delusional.

Offensive or not, it is getting the attention and notoriety it intended.

This teaser when watched on Youtube leads you to the website where you can personalize the picture. The only distribution is via your own social media choices. View it here: http://afternoondelight.stonemen.com/

Some see this as the “diffusing and amusing” humorous element to the campaign. The problem as we all know is that the average high volume user of social media is under 18 and there is no barrier to them accessing, personalizing (in what ever fashion they chose) and distributing this?

The brand director has said:
“The high production values of the film reflect Stonemen’s own obsession with quality. To print a seamless 360 degrees image on a pair of undies has been a labour of love for us and we wanted to bring the same level of craft to the film. It’s rare that virals have this aesthetic and adding an interactive element is a genuine marriage between beauty and the kind of fun you like to have with your mates.”

The debate rages on and of real interest is how we moderate the ever increasing digital distribution of advertising messages, as well as what we deem acceptable in personal social media distribution, particularly when the age of the average user is most likely to be under 18 and it is facilitated by brands with campaigns like this.

A stark contrast to the ad posted here earlier this month. Conflicting strategic thinking, creative execution and impact: