It’s funny how advertizing messages become a lot more interesting when they get banned.
Last month in the U.S., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent their Veggie Love spot to NBC for broadcasting during the Super Bowl. NBC is fine with spots featuring half-naked women being sprayed with beer, but PETA’s broccoli lust was a bit too rich for a football game. It turns out that those lovable rascals at PETA never intended to buy Super Bowl airtime, but figured they would get more mileage from news stories about their ad being banned. They were right: the YouTube version of the ad was viewed 513,227 times. I bet the donations are pouring in, too.
Closer to home, bus ads from the Freethought Association of Canada (atheists) have been rejected by the City of Ottawa committee supervising public transit. The Freethought Association did want to get their message on buses, but they ended up getting much better: mentions in 107 news articles in Canadian dailies, including this column from Dan Gardner, the Ottawa Citizen’s resident atheist. It’s pretty damn good and most of those articles printed their complete message: “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” That’s more earned media than many media relations campaigns I’ve seen (including some of mine).
In both cases, the organization looked pretty smart. After all, the ads look quirky, not the work of foaming-at-the-mouth radicals. Which in PETA’s case is a bit a tour de force.
So go ahead: be daring, be bold, be risqué. And hopefully, get banned.