I’m fascinated by ads that cause controversy. If you’ve read many of the posts on this blog, you know that already.
I have google alerts in place to make sure I don’t miss the good ones. It’s part of my own process as an ad guy to map out the edges of the envelope that I intend to push.
Controversy is usually about public sentiment. That’s more interesting to me than which ads win awards where. That’s just the industry admiring itself. What the public thinks is what matters. The risks and rewards lie here.
Sometimes real screw-ups by ad agencies happen. A lot of the time Agnes in Comox Valley just has too much time on her hands and has to gripe. But that’s for you, gentle consumer, to decide!
Today’s case to consider and render a verdict on: The new Halifax safe-driving-on-the-bridges campaign.
Say hello to Bridget. She is the sexualized face of the campaign. (Bridges: Bridget – get it?)
There are billboards, radio spots and a twitter campaign to get people to pay attention. You will find the details of the case here.
A sexual assault centre claims the campaign uses sex gratuitously and actively promotes violence against women (for example, the coin receptacle for the toll-bridge results in drivers throwing coins at Bridget’s face).
The client, Halifax Harbour Bridges, responds that she’s not a victim, and in fact they were going for a strong female character using her power, in the vein of the Avengers or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (The Prosecution rebuts that she’s using sex to sell her message, so it doesn’t represent a woman in power.)
THE EXPERT WITNESS
A university professor says it straddles the line! (He put on his cleanest cardigan and that’s the best he could come up with?)
A guy driving his car on the bridge says “it’s brilliant!” A woman driving on the bridge says “it makes me feel like I’m in a strip club.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the verdict is now in your capable hands. What say you!