Opinion, Student/PR

It Pays To Be An Asshole In Advertising

Advertising – it’s not something I talk about so often, being prominently PR orientated, but it is something I’m really interested in. Personally, I think it’s really hard to make adverts effective if they’re being broadcasted to a wide audience. If you’re aiming for one of the prime time slots, then you’ve really gotta’ have a standout idea. Something that stops people heading out for a toilet or tea break as soon as the ‘verts roll.

I’m an absolute champion of ads done right, I really applaud them as I know how hard it is to truly attract and maintain attention long enough for that engagement to be transferrable.

Because advertisements are filtered into our lives on a daily basis, ignoring the generic ones is often second to none.

SO, that’s why I was particularly impressed over the weekend when my boyfriend and I went to the cinema and – as usual because I love to be early – sat through the advertisements. Not even the movie trailers, the actual brand advertisements that appear before that. Typically, I’ll sit through these with very little thought. Nothing really tends to stick. Until I came across the ad that I’ve sat down at my laptop to write about tonight.

Yes, in my opinion, it really was that good.

Be A Good Assh*le!

The ad, brainchild of City to Sea, that had the best part of half the cinema in fits of laughter was one that drew attention to the environmental issue of flushing wet wipes down the loo. Totally impolite and boldly unapologetic, the ad was centered around, quite literally, a talking assh*le telling you not to flush your wet wipes and other non-compostables down the toilet so to help the environment.

“Be A Good Assh*le” was its ultimate message.

Although climate change is finally getting a lot more airtime and attention, I still dont doubt that if the advert wasn’t so impudent and surprsing, it probably would have been largely ignored by the cinema-goers… Including myself.

BUT, because it always takes you by surprise when you hear something taboo on the TV (much like when in school and your teacher swore and you’re all a bit shook), the advert grabbed the attention of most of its audience, and entertained them too.

City to Sea be a good assh*le

Not only this, but the video didn’t actually give all that much away. It implored you to head to a website that I made a note of and then did actually visit after the movie. I wonder how many others did the same… Who’s curiosity got the better of them and were encouraged to find out more?

I can’t say I’ve done that for an advertisement for a long time, and probably won’t again for a while either. Which leads me to the question: is this the way that all adverts should be executed in the future?

Is Taboo Advertising The Way Forward?

I simply cannot deny that the intrepid nature of the “Be A Good Assh*le” advert worked a treat in this circumstance. It had the audience in laughter and had people such as myself following up to find out more. I mean, it even has me talking about it and linking to it as we speak!

However, is this a tactic all brands should adopt as we move forward in a world that’s ever less-receptive to advertising? One that’s always demanding originality and creativity?

Well, as with anything, I’d say that this is certainly a method that cannot be overdone. Much like a lot of things, if you use this one time and time again, it’ll decline in effectiveness. The be-all and end-all is that this advert was surprising, and it had (albeit quite a mellow) the shock-factor. If you try and use it as inspiration for your own content, it’ll likely not have the same effect the second time round.

Not that this is the first time anyone’s ever sworn in an advertisement, mind. It’s just the first time I’ve seen it done with such brashness in a long time.

Screenshot 2020-01-14 at 12.34.38

Furthermore, being taboo doesn’t sit well with everyone. I would be inclined to believe there’d be a large proportion of the population who wouldn’t appreciate this kind of thing, who would see it as crass and inappropriate. As with any time you’re bold and daring, you’d definitely be taking a risk to deploy this idea. There are some brands this kind of marketing simply wouldn’t gel with, for sure. You need a brand that’s really quirky, unique and quite unapologetic. For example, I could imagine Innocent Smoothies rolling with this and it working, other more luxury brands, such as Harrod’s for example, I couldn’t.

I guess for any brand, the message learned is that creativity always wins. The best ideas are those that are rooted within, and that aren’t necessarily taken from others.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

12 thoughts on “It Pays To Be An Asshole In Advertising”

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