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Don’t Kill the Messenger?


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Fame, Recognition, Notoriety — acknowledgement for actions that ripple in influence. Whether it’s famous outlaws, innovative inventors, or even your neighborhood Samaritan, reception is a craving that doesn’t fade overnight.

We’re all aware of publicity and how it can do no wrong, where it is better to be talked about than to be forgotten and to have tomatoes tossed at us rather than the absence of an audience. But what happens when the tomatoes turn to torches and the people are armed with pitchforks?

With billions of individuals occupying our blue planet, it’s impossible not to offend. So when advertisers are constantly devising ways to grab your attention, it’s difficult to estimate a boundary (just imagine testing stormy weather with an iron rod).

Case in point: in an era where women are rising in the ranks from their endured hardship and the awareness of gender equality is climbing — it wouldn’t take more than a spark to set the forest ablaze.

Yves Saint Laurent — ‘Porno Chic’ campaign

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The famed fashion label’s controversial spring advertising campaign has been removed from billboards across France due to it’s alleged display of “degrading” images of women.

The tasteless, gratuitous, borderline-mysoginistic depiction of women should not be tolerated and it is a deplorable example of objectifying women — BUT WAIT, is there a chewy centre to all of this?

After decades of advertising, one would think that the industry would know what is inflammatory for audiences. So if they’re aware of their influence, why risk a costly campaign only to have it booed off the market — unless there lies a secret between the ads.

Nivea — ‘Look Like You Give a Damn’ campaign

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The ‘re-civilize’ print ad in question features a simple enough conveyance of stepping towards civility, yet people have somehow picked up on racist suggestion.

Somehow audiences are confused on why racism is still an issue when a man tossing an afro-filled head is deemed ‘racist’ rather than leaving it as an inclusive message that any man ungroomed appear more rugged than civil.

So are ads deliberately offensive or is there a message in the bottle? Though it seems outstandingly arrogant to assume that brands go out of their way to insult you instead of going for the widest reach — ads are still just an open platform to interpretation.

Sisley — ‘Fashion Junkie’ campaign

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It’s difficult enough as it is to get away with the word ‘junkie’ on an ad, but to have women snorting a garment like ingesting cocaine — that’s running with scissors.

Apart from the glaring shock-value displayed and the waves of bad publicity that spread across the land, we could appreciate that Sisley is exploring away from the safe-zone. Experimenting may be considered intolerable, but it’s something New and unknown — or else everything would just be milk and toast.

Be it Devil’s Advocate or the benefit of the doubt — it would provide some insight to understand the purpose artistic material. Is it to learn from examples displayed, or to condemn it until something aligns with your preference.
Just like how bad news doesn’t warrant the death of the messenger.

Either way, brands are pushing the medium forward — with or without you.

How shockingly new are your ads?
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