Politically Correct Advertising
When I was at the University doing my BA in Social Communication, the restriction for Advertising on Tobacco and Alcohol were already really strong, not only in my country (I’m originally from Brazil), but in many countries of the world. Tobacco advertisement was totally banished at some point and alcohol advertisement was so strongly regulated that only the big brands allowed themselves to invest money on it. As an individual and posteriorly a mother, I have to admit I’m glad with such restrictions. As an advertiser I feel a bit sorry, since some of the tobacco and alcohol ads I’ve seen were masterpieces of creativity.
Since Television came into the scene as a mass media back in the 70’s spreading advertisement as barn fire, it seems reasonable that the message spread around has to be at least politically correct – something that does not happen always. Alcohol and tobacco are not politically correct. No one I know wants their kids playing “Marlboro Man”, right? The advertisement needs to be regulated and meet not only consumer needs, but also consumer rights and obligations. And when talking about television, is impossible to predict who will watch a specific ad, so we better stay on the safe side.
But time brought the wonder of the Internet and the grace of the cyber world, a world where the user can make their own choices. And I dare to say even more: the content that previously seemed menacing can now be available within the new trends of advertising. How? Follow my reasoning:
For all that we already know, advertising in general and online video advertising in particular needs to follow the 3 golden rules to be effective: relevancy (read content), interactivity and targeting. Targeting is the least complicated part since the technology does its job and does it really well. Interactivity, when talking about video ads, can be deceiving: would you like to click on something that will interrupt what you are watching? Better picturing it: Have you ever watched any TV ad that tells you to get up from the sofa and go out to buy the product immediately? Touche! That’s why I state that the interactivity is needed, indeed. But it has to be conceived within the content and be part of it, not as a secondary part of the whole package.
Be Water… and Keep Walking
So we have content left: the backbone of any commercial, the structure of advertising, what I ambitiously translated like relevancy. Online video advertising brought us back the chance of embed the content that was forbidden, due to the power of target. Let me give you an example: yesterday someone shared on Facebook a Chinese Johnnie Walker ad featuring Bruce Lee. I clicked on it, not only because the person who shared it is well known for sharing really good content (he is a social media professional), but also because I work for a company who operates in China with great success and everything regarding this country gets my attention.
In the minute the video opened on my screen, I was in shock: there was this stunning HD movie with amazing images and soundtrack in front of me, in Mandarin with English subtitles, telling me a great story. A story I would share. So I did and sent it to someone else, who also shared it. And who was also amazed with the short movie. The thing is, you barely remember that’s a whiskey ad. All you can recall is Bruce Lee’s message telling you about the power of water, and the dragon and all… The brand “Johnnie Walker” is a mention, an association of strength very well done to the actor’s image. Below the video there is a message written by the author of the ad where he emphasizes that the purpose of his work is to glorify Bruce Lee, not the usage of the beverage. The whole video combined with the text strenghts the power of the brand without its disadvantages. Politically correct. And there it is, the message is the content itself.
Online video advertising has uncountable benefits, including advertising what could not be advertised out of the web. And making it into a correct context, like Bruce Lee’s ad did, turning an alcohol ad into the “Be Water” concept.
This ad was produced for the web. It’s featured on Vimeo by the own creator, with all the explanation of how it was done and credits under it. The internet allowed a whole new world of advertising, as mentioned before, a world where Marlboro Man is no longer dangerous to our children and Jhonnie Walker ads become a great Bruce Lee movie. This is only possible because the user will choose to watch it or not: like I chose to open the video, and the content of it got me stunned. And now I am here, sharing it with you. It was a good team work of the agency, the creator, the producers, the technology providers, all the sources involved in delivering the final result.
A brilliant final result.