We’ve looked at a number of ad campaigns here at The Notes.
In the modern cultural environment, where advertising images and viral campaigns are ubiquitous, it seems certain that advertisers will increasingly produce campaigns aimed to shock or titillate in order to gain the maximum coverage possible.
The KFC chicken ad we looked at a couple of weeks ago is, perhaps, a good example. Were the advertisers hoping some U.S. commentators would find it offensive, thus leading Australians to rally behind their product in order to protect their national character for racism charges? Perhaps not. But if that was their intent it appears to have worked extremely well for them. The ad sparked waves of comment and counter-comment across the internet, a lot of it written in the sort of knee jerk ranting so common to internet fora but it certainly put KFC in the forefront of the news for a few days. I’m sure it also solidified a number of KFC customer’s brand loyalty as they stepped in to defend crispy deep fried chicken as a matter of honour.
(You can read our post on the KFC ad here which includes a link to our YouTube post on the ad. The comments on the YouTube post can make for depressing reading!)
Today it’s been Air New Zealand’s turn. Here’s a three minute spot they are running that makes fun of Auckland’s fairly visible population of older, moneyed single women.
The spoof documentary is promoting the airline’s offer to give 60 tickets away to next month’s Wellington Sevens rugby tournament. “Cougar” women, aged 35-plus, are invited to email photos of themselves out on the town with their cougar mates. Meanwhile, a simultaneous promotion run by radio station ZM is selecting 10 young men who will also attend the match, as “meat” for the cougars.
Perhaps predictably the campaign has ruffled some feathers. It has already made the NZ papers and emigrated acorss the Tasman to the Sydney Morning Herald. According to the Sunday Star Times, the Auckland comedian and poet Penny Ashton sees the ad as sexist and painting women as predators and men as prey “incensed” her. Apparently she thinks…
Men are not helpless. Surely if you say no a couple of times it should work?
Victoria University associate professor Delores Janiewski – an expert on gender, culture and media – said the ad was “funny and cheeky” but it was hard to tell whether the ad was encouraging or denigrating single women.
I’m not entirely sure how seriously anyone should take a campaign that seems to deliberately hoping to seed exactly this type of story in the press. To me it appears to be increasingly easy to goad one commentator or another into a frenzy of indignation in the hope it may spin off into a wider audience. But perhaps I’m being cynical about media manipulation instead of looking at whether this piece is actually offensive at all.