Controversial Ads and Social Media – Are You So Excited You Could Pee?
The Los Angeles Times story was about the British luxury store Harvey Nichols. HN ran controversial ads with models apparently having pee’d themselves over the fantastic sale prices going on at the store. The tag line is “The Harvey Nichols sale: Try to contain your excitement.”
HN has done controversy before and this one is no exception. I can only imagine the creative instructions to the photoshop guys – make the model’s crotch seem…well…you get the picture.
They said that they are playing off the phrase from “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts goes shopping and exclaims “It was so good, I almost pee’d myself!” According to their representative, “During the production of the campaign, we researched the use of this expression in popular culture and social media and were satisfied that it is both commonplace and invariably used in a playful, inoffensive manner,” adding the phrase was in keeping with “the tongue-in-cheek spirit in which we intended our campaign to be taken.”
They researched the phrase and it was part of popular culture and social media? She said “during the production”, not prior to, right? That means execs approved the campaign before they did social media research. Would exploring the social media ethos prior to production make more sense? I think so. “Twitter made me do it” probably won’t fly when review time comes.
The rep’s comment also means that they were listening to social media streams. Good points for them, but really? Sounds to me like they were hunting for an excuse that would sound OK when some reporter (like from the LA Times) came calling to ‘splain themselves. How much better would it have been to listen all the time instead of just when they want to justify their agenda? I’m thinking that is not what they do.
So, in regard to listening to the social media stream – what does your company do? What do they do with the information they find there? Do you try to justify what you already want to do with social, or do you actually let it help you choose? You can guess which one I prefer.
How would you have played this? Is controversy itself enough to push an ad? If you use controversy in your campaigns, do you track sales and the social chatter to analyze if your risk paid off? Do you use social media as a leading or lagging input to your work? Please weigh in below – talk amongst yourselves!
Til next time!
Vicki @Smartwoman Flaugher
[graphic by tedmurphy]
Published: June 20, 2012 By: