PaddyPower’s Top 5 Publicity Stunts

PaddyPower is one of the leading Irish bookmakers who will do just about everything for some publicity, whether it be conventional marketing or controversial PR stunts,  From taking bets on whether Oscar Pistorius will “walk” from his murder trial to publishing a poster portraying Jesus and the disciples gambling at the last supper.  Personally i think most of the PaddyPower advertisements are hilarious and they continually think of  clever ways of advertising their brand. PaddyPower’s marketing department definitely produce material based on the understanding that “all publicity is good publicity”.

Below is a list of previous PaddyPower PR stunts that i believe are some of their best pieces of work.

5. Cheltenham festival pants 

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During the 2013 Cheltenham festival, PaddyPower offered race-goers the chance to get the best seats in the house in a flying pair of PaddyPower underpants. The giant flying underpants were not only seen by the 70,000 people in attendance but also was picked up on live TV broadcasts. Cheltenham festival organisers subsequently demanded that PaddyPower take down their flying pair of pants following the involvement of the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

4. Nicklas Bendtner’s Lucky Pants

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During a EURO 2012 group game Nicklas Bendtner coolly dispatched an equalising goal for Denmark, he then proceeds to pull down his shorts where he reveals a pair of PaddyPower lucky pants,  The stunt landed Nicklas a £80,000 fine which PaddyPower paid on behalf of Nicklas. The fine was issued on the same day that Croatian fans were fined £60,000 for racial slurs directed at Italian striker Mario Balotelli, PaddyPower publicly addressed the harsh penalty fee and were disappointed in EUFA’s “double standards”.

3. Ryder Cup Sky tweets

In a campaign to support Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament, PaddyPower decided to take to the skies above the Medinah Country Club to issue the worlds first ‘sky tweet’.  PaddyPower hired a fleet of aircraft’s to display tweets in the sky in support of Team Europe. The messages were quickly seen by the golfers and was picked up live on Sky Sports broadcasts. The campaign was so successful that BBC re-used the footage for their 2012 Sports Personality of the Year awards.

2. PaddyPower’s Drive Through Confession Box

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Prior to the Pope’s visit to Ireland on August of 2018, PaddyPower erected a giant drive-thru confession box to facilitate for the Irish population to repent decades of sins from the comfort of their own car. PaddyPower even carried out a special survey before building the express lane to eternal salvation, when asked if they found it convenient to attend confession, the majority (61%) said no, and a further 15% said it could be improved, cue PaddyPowers “convenient” method of attending confession.

1.Always bet on black

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Ahead of the one of the most anticipated fights the world has ever seen between undefeated Floyd Mayweather and Irish MMA champion Conor McGregor, Floyd steps up for his weigh-in, slips off his trousers only to showcase PaddyPowers bright green lucky pants with the phrase “always bet of black” embroidered on them in an apparent gut-shot to his opponent’s ‘f**k you’ pinstripe suit effort during the fighters’ promo tour for the event. Quite frankly, nobody had seen this coming especially given that PaddyPower, an Irish betting company wasn’t backing one of their own in Conor McGregor. Instead they had fledged allegiance to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather.

PaddyPower even held twitter competitions to win a free pair of PaddyPower lucky pants signed by Floyd himself.

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James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/ & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jimmymcgirr

Whats the Quack with Hastings Ducks?

If you have previously stayed in any of the chain of luxury hotels owned by Hastings Hotels Ltd, then you will undoubtedly be familiar with the little smiling rubber duck that waits patiently to greet you on your arrival to your room.

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The duck phenomena first originated in a warehouse of an organization called Bluestep Solutions. This marketing and design agency located in the english countryside of North Hampshire were the founders of this marketing goldmine.  This is where their creative team hit the drawing board to manufacture a renowned mascot for the company and the world-famous Hastings duck was born and waddled its way into the spotlight!

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Julie Hastings the Marketing Director of Hastings Hotels Ltd and daughter of CEO Sir William Hastings said: “We introduced the ducks to our hotels almost 20 years ago and they soon became a part of the family. The ducks have always been in huge demand and guests from around the world spit feathers with excitement every time we launch a new one.” Hastings Hotels continue to maximise this marketing campaign by releasing seasonal and limited edition ducks for guests and duck enthusiasts! Examples including Paddy the duck for St. Patricks day, Christmas ducks and they have even introduced a homage for local sporting star Rory McIlroy – ‘Rory Quackilroy.’

These collector items were successful in distinguishing the hotel aside from competitors specifically regarding the Irish Open Event in 2016 – this duck was very successful due to its high demand and the quirky play on words is what intrigued many guests, especially overseas guests, that found this to be a huge hit and another duck to add to the collection!

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Julie Hastings Tweet: Happy st Patrick’s day from the lucky Hastings Irish duck! (Image of Famous Irish Actor James Nesbitt) 

People love to take the ducks home with them even when they check-out and they are becoming a consistent feature in numerous home bathrooms of regular guests, who have previously posted images of their duck collections on Trip Advisor whilst recommending the hotel for its excellent services, and novelty ducks of course!

With 3 years experience behind me working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa as well as the world-famous Europa Hotel, I personally believe the rubber ducks are more than a simple complimentary gesture or memorable souvenir for each individual guest; but more so an innovative Public Relations strategy implemented by the company to set them aside from their opponents giving them a competitive edge; as well as establishing a unique selling point which in turn improves brand awareness. The ducks are a globally recognized symbol and a marketing tool used to promote advocacy within the organization.

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It is evident that the Hastings duck serves the company as their fictional mascot that personifies and represents the brand, as they resonate significantly with the hotel guests from all over the world. Even celebrities go quackers over the ducks and throughout the years they have even met hundreds and hundreds of celebrities including: Roger Moore, Lionel Ritchie, Carl Frampton, Conor McGregor, Van Morrison and many more. They have also attended lots of showbiz events; taking the ducks on tour they have even been spotted in global events such as the Fifa World Cup, Wimbledon, and Glastonbury.

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(Image of Carl Frampton and Barry McGuigan with our Famous Friend)

Mother of Quackers –  Hastings Hotels were very excited to unveil the freshly hatched Duck of Thrones that coincided with their launch of the 2018 Game of Thrones Tour series that took place at The Ballygally Castle Hotel which set along the Antrim Coast. This is another strategy the organization employs to showcase their relationship and acknowledgement of local events. The Game of Thrones duck in particular became a huge collectors item for the world-wide fan base of the show, it is no surprise that this limited edition duck became a near necessity for the dedicated supporters of the show.

Hastings Hotels have now galvanised and cemented their spot in the hotel market in being the leading hotel for overseas guests, as a result of our recognizable rubber friends!

Meet the Duck of Thrones - available to our Game of Thrones tour guests at Ballygally Castle

The ducks not only serve as a collectors item but can be viewed as an efficient  marketing tool which can be exploited in numerous of ways. I personally believe Hastings Hotels could go one step further and generate more brand exposure as well as profit maximization by selling the ducks in the hotel gifts shops, and not to mention the added perks of utilizing the ducks in future ad campaigns and social media competitions.  The duck mascot could be implemented in social media networks, and the online presence used as an effective tool for online engagement with consumers, which is a much softer means of selling the product as opposed to blatant self promotional methods with the added effect of creating a rapport with regular and future guests. Generally speaking, the Hastings duck in turn can be an innovative driving force in the Public Relations department of the organization.

 

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  https://twitter.com/celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

 

Christmas Ad Mad

‘Holiday’s are coming’ Instantly your first thought is without a doubt, the Coca-Cola Christmas lorries, along with soft jingles and choir music starting up. That’s when I believe you know Christmas is truly approaching.

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Christmas ads on our TV screens are extremely popular throughout the whole of UK and Ireland. Now with social media, and the likes of YouTube thrown into the mix, it’s impossible to not be inundated with them and their catchy music, you either love them or hate them.

home aloneSpending on Christmas ads are rising each year with this year (Advertising Association, 2018) 6 ½ billion pounds were spent on seasonal advertising, beating last years record by 5%.

 

 

Each year the ‘main’ brands such as, Aldi, Coca-Cola, Debenhams, H&M, John Lewis, Lidl and Marks & Spencer, bring out their eagerly anticipated Christmas ad as a now fully cemented tradition which viewers enthusiastically critique.

What’s Christmas Ads without the music?

Music is a big part of Christmas, this year Elton John and Take that were a few to star in some on the main Christmas ads, but Coca-Cola outshines every year with ‘Holidays are coming’ being chosen as the favourite song to feature in a Christmas ad. (Advertising Association, 2018).

Is social media changing the game?

YouTube has over a billion users and people are turning to the site to instantly watch the best new Christmas ads of the year

Making a list of this, from the video stats from last year,

  • Number 5 –Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert 2014 – Christmas is for sharing

(19 million views)

  • Number 4 –John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 – #BusterTheBoxer

(25 million views)

  • Number 3 –John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 #MontyThePenguin

(26 million views)

  • Number 2 – John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon

(28 million views)

  • Number 1 – Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert 2015 – Mog’s Christmas Calamity – #ChristmasIsForSharing

(37 million views)

(Barnes: Nov, 2017)

The Worlds Number 1…

The German supermarket chain, Edeka. It’s tear jerker is number one around the world, online with its sentimental advert below.

 

This heart warming ad captures many hearts, but as the world’s number 1 ‘online’ doesn’t really make it the number 1 of all time?

What about the classics?

It’s hard to compare new advertisements of today that have so much social media backing surrounding them, compared to old masterpieces that were around before the world wide web even existed. For Example, The Kelloggs Christmas advert from 1991 with the little girl finding Santa and saying her cute little ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ or the Coca-Cola ‘Holidays are coming’ ad from 1995 would surely be great contenders.maxresdefault

My Number 1;

Like the Classics, my number 1 has been around for 14 years, yet it is still played without fail on TV every Christmas.

When thinking about Christmas, the sentimental aspect always comes out on top for me, that’s why my favourite advert of all time is without a doubt,

The Guinness Christmas Ad

The quietness of Christmas Eve, and the chiming of the church bells as it turns midnight onto the 25th of December on the old gentleman’s watch. The picturesque scenes with the soft snow and the quiet city scenes from all over Ireland from Galway to Dublin and Belfast. The music of the soft flute at the beginning, building up a quiet symphony with violins more towards the end accurately bring that homely feeling.

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Of course the best Christmas ads can’t be determined with how many times it has been shown on tv, how many YouTube likes and views it has received or how many times you have cried watching them. Purely opinion, sentimentally and nostalgically grounded.

What would your favourite of all time be?

 

Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/

Sources from;

https://econsultancy.com/the-top-10-most-shared-christmas-ads-of-all-time/ https://www.digital22.com/insights/10-most-viewed-christmas-adverts-of-all-timehttps://www.extreme-creations.co.uk/blog/the-marketing-stats-behind-2016-christmas-ads/

Coca Cola, The King Of Christmas Advertising

Holidays are coming!  We’ve all seen them, and around this time of year it’s almost impossible to avoid them.  Around this festive period every single business and company are fighting it out to try and create the top Christmas advertisement of the year. Companies throw thousands upon thousands into their advertising for the Christmas period in a bid to attract the most attention to their company or product. However, no matter how good the advertisement or how hard they try there is always one advertisement that sticks out at the top. That of course being the Coca Cola Christmas advertisement.

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Many of us mainly associate the beginning of the festive period when the first Coca Cola Christmas Ad airs on the TV. For many people Coca Cola is the brand most associated with the Christmas period, this may be down to the fact they have been creating iconic Christmas advertisements since 1920.

The first ever Coca Cola Christmas campaign goes all the way back to 1920 when the red Santa clause first made an appearance in magazine advertisements. However this advertisement is very different from Christmas advertisements that Coca Cola are very famous for today. The famous Coca Cola Santa Claus we see later on in Coca Colas Christmas campaigns doesn’t resemble the one used way back in 1920.

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In 1931 Coca Cola set out to re-invent their Christmas campaign, so they then approached the D’Arcy advertising agency where the Iconic red Santa we see today was born and was created by artist Haddon Sundblom for the 1931 ‘Thirst has No Season’ campaign. This was essentially the first influential Christmas ad by Coca Cola attracting a lot of attention turning it into a classic holiday brand. Haddon Sundbloms perception of the famous Santa Claus created the popularity surrounding the Coca Cola Christmas campaigns, increasing anticipation of their Christmas ads each year.

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It is sometimes underestimated how influential coca cola have been over the years with their Christmas campaigns, their perception of the iconic red Santa Claus created by Sundblom very much painted a clear image of people’s perception of the Santa Claus that all children see today.

Sundblom created various advertisements of his iconic Santa Claus over several decades, establishing Coca Cola as one of the main festive brands. His last ever advertisement came in 1964. For decades after his last piece Coca Cola advertisements featured designs of the Santa Claus based on Sunbloms vision. Over the years Coca Cola have incorporated various other Christmas advertisements but in 1993 the Coca Cola polar bears made an appearance in their Christmas campaign.  The famous Coca Cola polar bears have been about for some time they first were seen in magazine advertisements in 1922.

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In 1993 The Coca Cola polar bears were brought back to life for a Christmas campaign by Ken Stewart who got the idea for the polar bears from his Labrador puppy that resembled a polar bear. Stewart brought the idea of the campaign to the animation company Rhythm & Hues who brought the animation of the Polar bears into the world and now the Coca Cola polar bears are one of their most famous advertising campaigns used by Coca Cola. Although they have been used by Coca Cola for nearly a hundred years they never featured in their Christmas campaign until 1993. It took over 12 weeks for the ‘Northern Lights’ campaign to be created and drawn up, for the advertisement to first be aired. In 2013 the polar bears yet again made a return to the Christmas advert with the ‘Open Happiness’ Christmas campaign with a short film created by Ridley Scott showing the popularity of the famous Coca Cola Polar Bears.

It is pretty obvious that these famous campaigns by Coca Colas have really established them as one of the main seasonal brands around the Christmas period. The creativity of their campaigns and the art involved has essentially created a vision of the certain aspects of the holiday itself. The campaigns in the past have set in stone Coca Cola’s position as a holiday brand, leaving people with the excitement of waiting to see their campaigns each year, and it is no surprise that their current campaign of the ‘Holidays are Coming’ trucks are also such a success.

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The bright red Coca Cola Christmas trucks were first introduced in 1995 as part of the first ‘Holidays are Coming’ TV advertisements created by George Lucas. To many when they first appear on our screens it marks the start of the festive period. The Holidays are Coming trucks are so popular they are broadcast to over 100 countries around the Christmas period making it the most widely used Christmas advertisement in history. In 2001 the trucks were used to bring back Sundbloms iconic Santa Claus imagine by having it featured in the 2001 advertisement on the side of the Coca Cola Christmas trucks incorporating the influence of the Santa Claus image created by Coca Cola. The holidays are coming campaign is such a massive success for Coca Cola that it is still the same campaign we see today. The advertisement is so popular to the Christmas period that they are even sent out to do tours of various countries attracting many visitors to go catch a glimpse and get pictures with the world famous trucks.  Once we see that advertisement with those red trucks, Christmas has well and truly begun.

 

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugh-dornan-60376a14b/

 

Why Does it Feel So Good to be Banned?

Earlier this month, Iceland unveiled their Christmas TV ad for 2018 in partnership with Greenpeace which told the story of ‘Rang-tan’, an Orangutan seeking refuge after humans had destroyed his home and killed his mother in pursuit of Palm Oil. The poignant, ethical and yet simple animation had high hopes to deliver a clear message to viewers over the Christmas period and Iceland had a £500,000 media spend across TV channels to really help push the ad. However, on release it was announced that the ad was banned from TV after being deemed “too political”.

So where did it all go right?

In most instances I can image that getting your ad banned from TV would be a disastrous backfire of hard work – a very deflating feeling. But by the looks of things, the opposite can be said for Iceland.

After posting their ad to their Twitter page and letting the public know that the ad had been banned for being “too political”, there was a public outcry and people tweeted in their thousands protesting the ban. Even celebrities such as James Corden and Stephen Fry tweeted the ad which now has 17m views on Twitter.

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 The response to the ban was massive and according to Iceland’s Managing Director, Richard Walker – unexpected. Despite claims that the company knew all along the ad would be banned, Richard Walker stated, “We went into this with a straight bat and I genuinely thought this [the advert] was going to get past.” Perhaps this was for the best. Since posting, their original tweet has 92k retweets, 4.4m YouTube views and a petition to get the ad that has been signed by 670,000 people. It has tripled the views from last year’s ad and created an audience of somewhat unexpected vocal advocates in support of Iceland and what they stand for. Done deliberately or unexpectedly, the video packed a punch in terms of reactions.

IT’S A FRONT!

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Iceland have come a long way from their TV ads featuring the latest B-list celebrity standing in front of a ridiculous spread of party food, aiming to persuade us to buy a frozen pig wrapped in a chicken and bacon blanket and served in a vol-au-vent. Those days are behind them. I imagine the company look back at that time in their business lives in the same way we look back at old profile pictures.

But what’s with the new image? Why aren’t they focusing on frozen sausage-stuffed asparagus? What about our platters? Where’s Coleen Nolan? What’s changed here? Is Iceland breaking up with their old image? Well, yes.

When I first watched the ad I thought “Hmm, yeah it’s good but why do Iceland care?” This thought was a shared one with many people claiming that Iceland taking an ethical stance to their business was all a front to attract a new demographic of customers. A PR smoke-screen for sales. But I’ve come to learn that that actually isn’t the case.

Environmentalism isn’t just for Christmas

Iceland have been publicly talking about the plight of orangutans for most of the year and became the first UK supermarket to vow to remove palm oil from every item in their own-brand food label by the end of 2018. Earlier this year, they also released a stream of video footage of how palm oil was destroying orangutan’s natural habitat:

The videos were part of the #PalmOilAlarmCall hashtag (similar to their #NoPalmOilChristmas hashtag) and for everyone who shared the hashtag on social media, Iceland promised to donate £1 to International Animal Rescue to fund rescue and care for orangutans left ‘homeless’. Their vow to remove palm oil from their products is expected to reduce the demand for the product by 500 tonnes a year.

On top of this, Iceland have been a leading retailer in banning single-use plastics. In January, their #TooCoolForPlastic campaign drew attention to the fact that they were the world’s first mainstream retailer to fully remove plastic packing from all of its own-label products by 2023. Who thinks it’s a front now?

Their commitment to sustainability is quite clearly not a smoke-screen but a solid foundation that they continue to build on. Their determination to lead the way into environmentally friendly business practices is admirable and something I expect other major retailers will soon follow. Iceland have set a sustainability benchmark and not just because it will make them look good, but because it is right.

Overall, whether you think it was a cunning plan as part of a marketing masterpiece or a backlash that turned out for the better, you can’t deny what Iceland have actually done. They have opened up an umbrella of conversations about the ethicality of companies, what’s in our products and what is the true price we pay for everyday items.

Our attention has been got. Everyone is listening.

Being banned wasn’t so bad after all.

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin, on Twitter – @scoutdobbin or Instagram – @scoutdobbin

Gender Roles Are Changing – So Why Aren’t Ads?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now, but I’ve barely had a chance to get out of the kitchen to do so.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “here we go again, another feminist rant”. Well, before you roll your eyes (they’ll get stuck up there, you know), hear me out.

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Who is the typical lead role in ads for cleaning products? Kitchen appliances? Childcare products? Yep, that’s right, a woman.

Why is that?

Studies have found that cleaning, housework and childcare duties are typically performed by females. So of course, companies are going to target that demographic; I mean, it would be silly to not target your primary users, right?

If we’re going to picture ourselves using products, the ads need to be relatable, and what other way is there than to be similar to the person using the advertised product?

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But, it’s a cycle.

Products are aimed at women because women are the primary users of said products. But women are the primary users because they’re always the demographic shown using the products.

These products are aimed at women, so women buy them. So they continued to be aimed at women, who continue to buy them. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Women will see these ads and think “oh, that’s aimed at me, I should be using that”.

Men will see these ads and think “oh its aimed at women, it’s not relevant to me” and thus not pay attention. And vice versa for male-targeted advertising.

If it’s not aimed at you and it’s not for you, why would you go buy it? I don’t see ads for chainsaws and think “hmmm, must get me one of those.”

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Ads don’t just sell products, they sell lifestyles and societal norms too. They create desire. To achieve the ‘desired’ lifestyle shown in the ad you should act how the actors are acting, use what they’re using, behave how they’re behaving. You should picture yourself as them.

It just so happens that the ‘desired’ lifestyle tends to consist of sexist and old-fashioned gender roles. Gender roles which reflect a sexist and old fashioned society.

But, things have changed are changing. More men are helping out around the house and with child care. Women are leaving the kitchen to go out to work and have careers. Men *gasps* make their own sandwiches.

Yes, our society does ~sadly~ tend to follow traditional gender roles – but maybe that’s because that’s all  we see? In a way, these ads reinforce the sexist and old-fashioned gender roles.

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Surely if cleaning and childcare products were targeted at males, then more males would use them? If you show women using home decor products and gardening tools, maybe we’d use them more because we would be able to see ourselves using these products? (I mean I personally wouldn’t but that’s not the point)

My point is, ads should be changing to reflect the changing society that we live in. Not reflecting the society we did live in. Do they not use PESTLE? Please tell me I didn’t sit through 5 years of hearing about PESTLE analysis to find out companies don’t actually use it.

– Brief recap: PESTLE is a ‘fun’ way to remember the components of external market influences; Political, Economic, SOCIAL, Technological, Legal and Environmental. My GCSE Business Studies teacher would be so proud. Basically companies are meant to analyse what’s going on in the world around them and be aware of changes, like yano, women being allowed to work and not being forced to be housewives? Wee things like that.

Companies and advertisers need to respond to these societal changes. I mean, why limit yourself to 50% of the population? Targeting both sexes gives you access to a whole other demographic. Double the potential customers, double the potential sales, double the potential dolla.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, we have come on a bit from the old days of women in aprons baking pies and cleaning while their husbands are busy at work or ignoring their children.

There have of course been ads with women doing DIY, men changing nappies (yes, you can do it too) and cleaning, and- dare I say it, women working. But the sad thing is, these ads aren’t the norm, they’re the rarity.

I think we need to see less distinct gender roles in advertising (and in general, for that matter). After all, how can you expect society to progress if you don’t show what it could and should be like? Equality. Make that the ‘desired’ lifestyle.

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If you show multiple genders using the products, then multiple genders will buy and use them. Then you can target multiple genders who will continue to buy and use them.

Like I said, it’s a cycle. But I think advertisers need to start pedalling.

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: Niamh Murray.

Controversial Advertising: Stupid or Strategic?

Have you ever seen an ad and thought “who thought that was a good idea?!” And no, I don’t mean those corny ads like something you’d see on The Apprentice. I mean those ones that make you think “who approved that?” or “umm why?”

I’ve always thought the whole “all press is good press” notion was a bit, well, stupid really. I mean, I never really saw how negative publicity and consumer backlash could be a good thing for a business?

 

 

Well, today I saw this NHS ad campaign for breastfeeding on my LinkedIn feed. The only reason that I saw this ad was because a connection of mine shared it and expressed their outrage at the nature of the ad. Then I realised that I probably never would have seen the ad if it wasn’t for them sharing it. I mean, I don’t exactly strive to keep up to date on the goings on of the parenting and baby world (well not yet anyway).

This got me thinking though, what if Eminem was right? *gasps in background* What if we do need a little controversy? These ‘controversial’ ads do get people talking and raise awareness about the brand/product after all. So what if all press really is good press?

 

  • To clarify, I’m not saying “let’s go out and offend everyone in the name of free publicity” (or, “let’s listen to Eminem” – I’m definitely not saying that). I’m simply saying that maybe there is method in the madness. And I’m not talking about ads that violate the principles of the ASA and have to be taken down either.

 

Marketing and advertising teams depend on people talking about products, companies, shows- whatever they’re trying to promote; and what better way to get people talking than to start a good old fashioned debate?

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Take the latest Cancer Research campaign – informing consumers of the link between obesity and cancer. Many people complained, stating that it ‘fat shamed’ individuals and lowered their self-esteem.

This sparked an online debate, with people vouching for both sides, which led to the ad being shared and talked about all over social media.

Think of how many people have now seen the ad. So, think of how people are now aware that obesity contributes to the development of cancer. Do you think an ad showing a microscope and cell would have had the same effect?

Whether or not they agree with the ad is irrelevant; these people still shared the ad with hundreds of people. What is relevant, however, is that the aim of the ad was to educate and inform consumers. Which it has.

Those who were so opposed to the ad, were the ones who actually promoted the campaign. Doing Cancer Research a favour. I mean, if you hate the ad so much, why are you giving the company free advertising space on your social media platforms?

Cancer Research essentially got free advertising and discussion about not only their organisation, but the message they were trying to spread.

 

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In a similar way, Netflix’s show Insatiable got slated online with a large amount of viewers complaining about it. I had never heard of the show, but decided to watch it to ‘see what the fuss was about’; I ended up watching the whole series. If the show hadn’t been featured on the likes of Buzzfeed and social media, I probably would never even have heard of it, let alone watched it.

What people don’t seem to realise is that “hate watching” is still watching. Do you think a series which follows the social norms and is 100% politically correct would have been renewed for a second series? Doubt it.

 

Let’s be real, we’re all (I hope it’s not just me) guilty of being attracted to a wee bit of scandal and  the chance to give our opinions *has flashbacks to whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black* and companies know this – they have to get us talking after all.

(it was white and gold btw- just saying)

 

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Advertisers love pushing boundaries. They have to think outside that clichéd box and come up with new and imaginative ideas for campaigns. If they didn’t push the boundaries, people wouldn’t react; and the whole point of advertising is to get a reaction from consumers. Yes, ideally you want consumers to actually like you, but, it’s a gamble that I guess can pay off. I somehow doubt that Cancer Research will have a tough time weighing up the cons of a few angry people vs the pros of raising awareness and saving lives.

The thing to note is the status of the company being controversial – the NHS can afford to be because, whether or not people agree with the ad, they’re most likely still going to avail of the NHS’s services. I doubt people would rather fork out a few grand for private healthcare than get it for free from a health provider that ran a questionable breastfeeding campaign.

Similarly, do you think consumers are going to ‘boycott’ a cancer research charity because they don’t like their ad? Don’t think so. So, whilst being controversial can be a good thing, it’s important for advertisers to think of the potential consequences of annoying consumers.

Advertisers also need to be aware of the fine line separating ‘controversial’ and just downright offensive. The last thing you want is for the ASA to be on your back, or having to withdraw a campaign you spent a hell of a lot of money on.

 

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Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

So, next time you see an ad and think “what the hell were they thinking?!” Maybe now you know.

Or, maybe they’re not the strategic marketing geniuses we thought they were and it really is just be a poorly thought out ad. Who knows?

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/