As much as some campaigns make our hearts melt, some give us quite the adverse reaction.
Take the recent Paddy Power advertising stunt for example. In short, it featured a number of sports stars (e.g. Mo Farah, Andy Murray, and others) on the side of a lorry travelling from Dover to Calais and invited immigrants into the lorry, but only if they were good at sports.
Double-take. This is making light of the very serious immigration issue that the whole of Europe is desperately trying to deal with and the many, many people that are dying trying to get to our shores. It is also very derogatory towards our UK sports heroes, who we love to watch and who make us feel proud to be British. They are basically portrayed as immigrants while the UK is accused of importing its sporting heroes.
‘But it’s aimed at lads’, I hear you cry. ‘You’re not the target audience.’ Well-spotted. However, after 22 years in Marketing I’m a reasonable judge of what is good and what is in bad taste. And this is definitely not the former. Yes, it might elicit a laugh from said “target audience”. After that, it doesn’t show the Irish brand in a positive light (narrow-minded, ignorant, anyone?).
This brings up an interesting point: does the target audience justify the message? To a degree certainly. A great example of this was (and still is) the Carlsberg “Probably the best …” campaign. Tongue-in-cheek, not derogatory and reaching the “lad community” very effectively.
The Paddy Power campaign was set up to create a response. And well, it has received plenty of publicity, but will it really make people gamble more? The ad was very subtle about it, you’d have to translate “Jumping in the back” to “Taking a gamble”. Perhaps the campaign should have focused on “taking chances”. This would have shown the sports stars in a more positive light and be less incendiary. I dare say this was not the objective.
This campaign follows on the heels of the beach body campaign by Protein World, which, according to the outcry at the time, was also in bad taste. In my opinion, this advertising deserves the same treatment.
Written by Ingeborg de Gooijer