Does the Internet hate everything?

Posted on November 30th, by JCH in Blog Posts. No Comments

There’s a saying that everyone is a critic.
While the Internet has made that old chestnut true, it’s also given the world a situation where the critics have the anonymous power to shape communications. With a sharp wit and a screen name, anyone can derail months of planning and strategy by simply creating the buzz of disapproval, feinted insult and unsubstantiated offense.

Recently, the tourism folks in North Dakota unveiled a campaign touting the ability to visit North Dakota and “Leave A Legend”.  A print ad was moved to their Facebook page and lo-and-behold, someone took offense. The ad shows two gentlemen flirting with three women through a tavern window. Apparently the headline “Drinks, Dinner, Decisions…” was too much for someone.

I’ve done my share of ads that somebody, somewhere, didn’t like. And on more than one occasion a member of the general public even called a client to complain. They didn’t like a photo or a headline. In the case of every fast food ad I ever did, you could set your watch to somebody yelling that it didn’t look like the cheeseburger they unwrapped when they got it home.

It’s a fact of advertising life.

The simple truth is that not all advertising is directed at everyone who happens upon it. At some point the issue is reaching the most people with the right message.  If that strikes some as the wrong message, then the advertiser has a gut check.

My message to advertisers? It’s easy to kill an ad because somebody complains. But by the time somebody sees that ad, there are thousands of dollars invested in it. Even on the cheap.  If in the review process nobody raised the possibility of it being racy or offensive, then you need to do more than just pull the ad. You need to review your strategy, your team and your understanding of your target audience. If that passes muster, then stick to your guns. Advertising isn’t all things to all people. I hated the Burger King stuff from Crispin+Porter. The King in somebody’s bedroom, pranking a sleeping 20-something, bugged me more than it made me want to eat at BK. But I figured I’m not the target market.

So man up, North Dakota. Run the ad.

Let’s see if it leads to thousands of tourists leaving Vegas for Mt Rushmore and the potential to become legendary. And if that leads to young men winking at young ladies through tavern windows, folks are just going to have to deal with it.

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