Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Even though I now concede that I was an official bust in the world of advertising (I guess you can consider me the Akili Smith of the marketing world), that still doesn't mean I don't have a bunch of uninformed opinions and criticisms about the often insane industry that rejected me (in that respect I guess I'm more like the Steve Phillips of the marketing world). A few of the ad related posts I've made in the past have touched upon the age old tension between making advertising that is memorable because it is innovative and creative versus advertising that is memorable because you've painfully hammered the viewer into submission.

There are various arguments for both sides. The extreme border of the hard sell, hammer side may argue that in the end the singular goal of advertising is to push the product and that an ad that is complicated and interesting is just going to confuse the consumer from the true message of knowing and buying the product. Their typical case in point would be the cool ad that you and your co-workers talk about around the water cooler but have completely forgotten what the actual product was. The far end of the advertising as art branch may say that condescendingly treating the buying public like children is a narrow and short sighted way to approach advertising. They would consider the positive, long term value of a truly inspired advertising campaigns like "Absolut" or Nike's "Just Do It" that have become permanent fixtures of the cultural fabric to be infinitely more value then some annoying aspirin ad that someone only remembers because they see it a hundred times a day.

Of course most ads just fall in the broad middle ground of this spectrum (those Greeks were really onto something with that whole "moderation" thing). However, in the context of this spectrum could an ad be just so awful and repugnant to the viewer that it somehow becomes memorable and effective? Is it possible to achieve the universal goal of the advertiser of communicating the product message to the consumer by horribly traumatizing them? After all , isn't scarring someone for life the ultimate way to imprint a lasting message?

Let's test that theory, shall we?:

While I know it's too late for an apology, I would still like to say I'm sorry that you lost about 1:45 to that disturbing display. That was the current advertising campaign for Orangina which just recently came to Britain via France and it is the single most mind blowingly awful piece of marketing I have seen in years. Suffice to say it's generating a fair share of controversy.

It's even more baffling when you stop and consider the fact that a multi-national advertising campaign like this took the efforts of a large amount of supposedly smart, professionals. It's not like "Bewitched" where Darren and the gang at McMann and Tate would just pitch goofy ideas to the company boss and he'd arbitrarily pick one to go with. A modern day advertising campaign is born out of thorough market research, testing, and constant polishing of every step of the creative process. How did it make this journey through the pipeline from "ill-conceived, terrible idea that never should have seen the light of day" to "let's air this nationally" without someone dropping a massive WTF? How did the production designers and computer animators create these abominations ("lengthen the legs on that sexy octopus and give that bear a bigger package!") with a straight face?

Or maybe this is exactly what the advertisers wanted. Perhaps this was all a calculated effort to stir up controversy. It certainly got some free mentions in the paper, an entire blog post devoted to it on this blog (the highest of privileges), and that YouTube clip has by last count gotten over 300,000 views. When was the last time you even heard someone mention Orangina, let alone drink it? Maybe there is something to this sort of "shock" advertising; a perverse combination of antagonistic creativity. While a lot less disturbing (and somewhat enjoyable), I still remember the controversial ads for almost a decade after the site went out of business.

However, it remains to be seen what the long term effects of approaching the consumer like this is. In the long run this may disgust and alienate large amounts of the drinking public (it has certainly not won much love from mothers and conservative groups). Then again perhaps after the initial disgust, the novelty will wear off and it'll be as bland as the next commercial. You can't really tell with these Europeans. After all it's the same continent that sent Crazy Frog to the top of multiple charts. On the bright side, even if they alienate every single on of their key demographics, they'll still have a lifelong stranglehold on the vaunted thirty furry fandom market.

P.S. Out of all the disturbing imagery (the Panda popping out of her dress, the hyper-phallic, ejaculating Orangina bottles, the Octopus woman squeezing the oranges) the one that bothered me the most was the fact that they picked two natural predator/preys (the bear and the deer) to fall in love. Now that's just plain wrong!


  1. Correction: predator/prey

    Duly Noted!

  2. I've had Orangina the last two days, actually. One can cost me $2.25!

    I haven't felt this conflicted about supporting a product with a terrible ad campaign since those awful "Turning 23" Dr. Pepper ads.

  3. This is goes up with those images you will remember right when you die and your brain fires off random neurons. I think along with this I will remember the PS1"Mental Wealth" ad along with those god awful annoying advil/tylenol/bayer ads where the people just "straight talk" about their headaches.