It’s not often I talk about my job, or other interests, on this blog. But recently, I’ve been compelled to share something, and I thought there was no better place to do it. My job, work, interests and passions usually overlap somewhere along the way – I don’t know many people who consider what they do for a living also a hobby – but I’m one of them.
Part of my job involves advertising, marketing, promotion and communications, but as a person, I’m also fascinated by advertising, marketing, promotion and communications. So naturally, when I spot an excellent advert (or equally an atrocious advert), I sit up, pay attention and then share it with someone because I need to talk about it. This week, I saw what I consider to be one of the worst branding efforts I’ve seen for a long time, and it wasn’t because of poor quality camera skills, or a bad script.
I’ll set the scene – I’m about to sit down and eat dinner, when an advert comes on TV with Sir Trevor McDonald. For anyone who isn’t aware of Sir Trev, he’s a famous UK journalist and news reader, who also makes excellent documentaries from time-to-time. He exudes confidence, intelligence and integrity. I’m a big Sir Trev fan, and I usually love his documentaries. Among other things, the advert shows violent scenes – government brutality, children in war zones, bombs exploding. I’m expecting a new documentary recounting Sir Trev’s life and career. I’m excited for this programme. The advert ends, and instead of a date and time to watch the show, I’m presented with a promotion for an eye test from Vision Express, a UK-based optician. I’m baffled. Which Marketer in their right mind thinks this is how to advertise eye tests?! And I’m shocked, disappointed in Sir Trev for agreeing to use that kind of imagery to promote a commercial product. I’m so angered, I complain to Vision Express and ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). I’ve never complained to ASA before, sure I’ve thought some ads were silly, or a little risqué, but I’ve never felt the strong desire to actually complain. Until now.
On the other hand, there are times when I see an advert and think, “Yes! So. Much. Yes!”, because it has so brilliantly tapped into an emotion (John Lewis, every. single. Christmas) that it makes you want to pay attention, makes you want to share the ad and tell others all about it, makes you want to watch it multiple times on YouTube… yes, I am that sad. This week was the week of bad ads, but it was also the week of great ads. Cue Gillette.
I’ve just recently read and reviewed Slammed by Colleen Hoover, which is apt because both the novel and this advert feature spoken word (or slammed) poetry.
They told you, you could be anything.
A beautiful astronaut.
A soccer-playing ballerina. A superstar.
Then said, here’s what you really are.
With a label to size you up and box you in, if you let it.
Step outside that box, and forget it.
When someone labels you “this” or “that”,
use your “and” to take a stand.
With your legs, and your voice, and your head, and your heart.
If someone says, “you’re smart”, say, “yes, and…”
If someone says, “you’re pretty”, say, “yes, and…”
Help them understand.
You are polished nails and a polished mind.
Raw and refined.
Shy and bold. Not just what you’re told.
You are warmth and wisdom
and grace and guts.
No “ifs” or “buts”
Now, I’ve seen some arguments that attack this advert for being “anti-feminist”, because while it’s empowering women, and telling them they can be anything, and promoting the fact that you don’t have to fall into the stereotypical categories of, “smart but unattractive”, or “beautiful but dumb”, it’s also promoting a business in the beauty industry, which in itself makes a fortune from women’s’ insecurities and self-doubt, and apparently it’s also indirectly telling women to shave their legs while filling them full of positive thoughts.
To those people: I strongly disagree.
Beauty businesses have, and will continue to, struggle to lose the negative image they’ve gained over the last 10 or so years. They will be criticised while trying to promote body positive messages to women and young girls, but the important bit is? Lots of them are trying. Dove’s “Real Women” campaign (Dove’s Evolution video is also excellent), Gillette’s #useyourand campaign, and others like them, are doing good things! I don’t remember part of the feminist manifesto being, “you’re never allowed to remove your body hair again”, do you?
What do you think of Vision Express’ advert? Or have you seen any other great and empowering campaigns like Gillette? And would you rather I just stick to books on this blog and leave opinion pieces out of it?? 😀 Get chatting with me in the comments!