Why Advertising Mishaps Aren’t Funny

December 30, 2011 Blog no comments

As I was reading my copy of the daily newspaper yesterday (yes, my family and I are still traditional newspaper readers), a colourful brochure with coupons popped out. As I glanced through its content, I couldn’t help noticing this promotional message which appeared to be a wee bit ironic in my view:

For a start, using a glossy, printed coupon and distributing it on a large scale hardly counts as being environmentally friendly. Free canvas or drawstring bag giveaways are also so common  that many of us have more “recyclable” bags than we’ll ever use in our lifetimes. This begs the question of whether these are truly as resource friendly as they claim or just another premium item.
Of course, ironic advertising isn’t only about using the wrong means to convey a message. Sometimes, it is occurs due to any of the following “wrongs”, as shown in the examples below:

Wrong placement next to another advertisement

Courtesy of Metabolic Syndrome X

Wrong placement in product aisles

Courtesy of Visual Consumer

Wrong timing (just after Michael Phelps’ pot smoking history was highlighted)

Courtesy of TMZ

Wrong context (this classic ad is quite…err…classic)

Courtesy of copyranter

While we do get more than a few laughs every now and then, having your web banner/poster/print ads/banner parodied in a negative fashion isn’t quite a fun thing. To prevent this, I guess marcom and advertising managers could do the following:

1) Test advertisements with 3rd parties – particularly folks whom you know are more culturally sensitive than the rest – to gauge their responses;

2) Work closely with media placement agencies or media owners themselves to ensure that visual gags do not occur;

3) Be alert to what’s happening in the news (NB – its not just the job of the PR department);

4) Think more critically about the meaning of one’s marketing message.

Of course, if all else fails and something wacky does get puts up (and it happens), having the good sense to quickly remedy the situation (if it warrants so) would help.

Can you think of other examples of misplaced ads?

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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