Tis better to risk ruffling feathers than risk being ignored.
If your advertising/marketing doesn’t grab attention, and possibly even ruffle some feathers, it may not be that good. Because, as everyone knows, about 90% of people are numb to about 90% of ads. And, if your message gets overlooked you’ve just wasted your time and money. Not that an ad has to be controversial to be effective, but, those that are — if also truthful, on strategy, and highly creative — often generate the best results. Like these:
Controversy: The minister initially rejected it believing that it would offend some church members. But he also understood and appreciated what we were trying to do. When the ad finally ran, many conservative church members were offended.
Results: Younger, non-church members (the main target audience) loved it and the provocative campaign helped increase membership over 30% by the 2nd year. It also got positive press in The New York Times. The minister later informed us that many people told him that, of all the ads, this was their favorite — and the most memorable. The campaign is featured in Prentice-Hall’s Principles of Marketing and this Fall marks the 11th consecutive year of the nationally recognized campaign.
Controversy: Daffy’s Off-Price retail message is that you’re crazy to pay retail. Yet, some hated this ad so much they actually picketed in the streets. The Alliance for the Mentally Ill insisted that the ad was very offensive.
Results: Major press in The New York Times, etc which fueled sales and helped add to a 25% dollar volume increase. Clearly, many others disagreed with The Alliance. (See other Daffy’s ads)
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Controversy: Picking on Smuckers Jam is like picking on Mom and apple pie. Yet, to make our point we believed we had to do it. Fortunately, our savvy client agreed eventhough he knew that Smuckers might try to sue his pants off.
Results: A 90% sales increase the first month, a featured article in Forbes, and no lawsuit. Because what we said was true. In fact, the results were so dramatic that our client doubled his media spending the following month and the campaign went on to become a case study taught at Harvard Business School.
Controversy: Our original client rejected the ad fearing negative feedback. So, we found another client — one who believed in the message enough to run it and stand behind it.
Results: A month after the print ad ran we got a request from the client for 1000 posters because so many schools, social workers and protective care agencies were requesting copies of it. Our agency later received the first ever United Nations Humanitarian Award for an ad.
To view some of our less controversial work, visit: