Kim Penstone

When good ads turn bad

2005-01-05 09:33

I'm not easily offended by advertising. When others are wide-eyed with shock, crossing themselves discreetly and shaking their heads in despair at yet another outrageous ad that has snuck past the client onto our small screens, I'm the one sniggering quietly in the background, hand over mouth to hide my growing grin from the more 'sensible' members of society.

If I were judge, jury and executioner, Nando's would still be flighting its infamous "Guide Dog" ad, and Sony Playstation posters encouraging men to "beat their wives" would still litter the streets.

Some call it a sick sense of humour, others seem to believe that I'm trapped inside the body of a morally-impaired twelve year-old boy.

I prefer to think of it as a refined palate - being exposed to more advertising than the average Joe, I'm pretty much impervious to shock and infinitely grateful to come across anything that breaks through the proverbial clutter in an intelligent and entertaining manner.

Huge dose of cynicism

I also like to think that, despite my fanatical interest in the communications environment, I take advertising from whence it comes, with a healthy pinch of salt and a huge dose of cynicism.

And I prefer to think of my sense of humour as twisted...

But I have to admit to crossing the floor last week, after stumbling across an ad that had even me open mouthed in disbelief.

I was glued to the goggle box, surfing between various news channels on DStv, watching in horror as the tsunamis in South East Asia swept through cities and villages, destroying houses and cars and lives with equal impunity.

Cut to ad break, where drawings of a house, a car and a person in beach sand are wiped out by a wave (albeit a gentle, benign wave), "because you never know what might happen".

It's an ad for Outsurance, and while my description may not be entirely accurate (I was a little too horrified to start taking notes), it's enough to give you the general idea.

'Gobsmacked'

I'm fairly convinced I've never used the word "gobsmacked" before, but I can't think of anything else (in polite speak) that suffices to describe the reaction of everyone in the room.

Of course, I'm sure Outsurance didn't produce the ad specifically to tie in with the tsunami disaster (no one can be that insensitive!).

I'm also fairly convinced that no one at the company deliberately placed the ad (knowing its content) slap bang in the middle of the news about the disaster.

At least that's what I'd like to think.

I'd also like to think, however, that the advertising and marketing world has some sensitivity, some lines that it won't cross to win an award or sell an extra can of beans (or, in this case, one more insurance policy).

Sometimes, though, I can't help wondering...

Send Kim your thoughts on this column.

  • Kim Penstone is pleased to report no more sightings of this particular Outsurance campaign. She hopes that some foresighted member of the marketing team has pulled it off our screens.

  • To read more articles on marketing, media and advertising, go to www.marketingweb.co.za.

  • Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

    X
    NEXT ON NEWS24X

  • SHARE:

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    0 comments
    Comments have been closed for this article.

    Inside News24

     
    /Sport

    Book flights

    Compare, Book, Fly

    Traffic Alerts
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
     
    English
    Afrikaans
    isiZulu

    Hello 

    Create Profile

    Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


    Please provide a username for your profile page:

    This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

    Settings

    Location Settings

    News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




    Facebook Sign-In

    Hi News addict,

    Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

    Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.