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apparently, sex isn't the only thing that sells

with the assistance of some friends, i have dreamed up some pretty bizarre advertising campaign ideas in my time, the kind of thing that no one in their right mind would use to advertise anything. however, as i get older, i'm beginning to think that these ideas were just well ahead of their time.

this afternoon, taking the subway home, i happened upon a new campaign from the workers safety insurance board of ontario. i can only assume that the imagery is meant to target teenagers, but the ads are a peculiar mix of gory imagery (severed ears with ear phones still inserted, young man trying to use a playstation with the bloody stump of a severed arm) and singularly unfunny prose. of course, it's just possible that the advertising world has run out of ideas and finally started to take advice from people like me, who would rather get a reaction than sell anything. (if you know what i do for a living, you can feel free to giggle at that.)

so it seems that i may have a brilliant future in advertising after all. would you like to hear about the tums antacid campaign that features an aztec heart-eating ritual?

Comments

Joe said…
Well I do write ads for a living, and I think that's a terrible campaign.

If it's purpose is to make kids more work safe, trivalizing injuries by making them cartoonish and amusing seems counter-productive.

Sometimes people in the media business are too hung up on being creative, new and innovative and forget there are tried and true methods that work pretty good. Showing real people with real injuries tells people it can happen to them and they need to take precautions. Not as amusing to the critics, and it won't win any awards, but it would actually, I dunno, prevent a few workplace accidents.
My personal issue with work safety is that in most cases, its the fault of the company, who does not care about anything beyond productivity and will gladly turn a few corners to squeeze an extra buck. Most of the time, the first victim is training, because its all costs and no short-term returns.
Lack of training is particularly dangerous towards teenagers, who are perceived as cheap labor and absolutely disposable.
As in politics, our greatest failure is complete lack of basic leadership. And as for the ads, they are fine. They are rather similar to the warnings of cigarette packs, showing the results of smoking; the result of unsafe work practices is that you lose a limb. Simple message, simple equation, high impact; I believe that makes it a good ad campaign, reaching to the audience in a language they'll understand. Isn't that the point?
flora_mundi said…
there was a similar misfire i found in an anti-drunk driving ad campaign in the usa last year. it was made to be funny. many times, humour helps an ad, but in certain contexts, it weakens the message.

ironically, the wsib had an extremely effective campaign, featuring true stories that touched on causes of workplace accidents. i'm left wondering what happened.
What happened is simple: businesses don't like being pointed out when they screw up. Its so much simpler to blame it on obscure "market forces"...

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