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Is it bad, or is it new?


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Illusionists and magicians often dazzle us with the sleight of hand or averts expectations by rattling our conditioned minds.

Yet even if at the back of our minds we’re well aware that there’s a science to the illusions, it is a relevant and preserved art form that still stops us in our tracks in wonder.

With that said- Mercedes’ recent direction in “taking on a different angle with a humorous and light-hearted twist” on social media drawn several cards to the table for audiences.

You can find their ad on the Facebook page of Mercedes Benz Malaysia.

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After the ad ran, Mercedes left a trail of fire in their wake with waves of negative comments ranging from poor production, decadence of prestige, presence of tropes and social issues, and plain confusion.

But amidst these remarks, there were a select few that seemed familiar with the adage- “no publicity is bad publicity”. Acknowledging that talking about not taking sides is still talking about it.

This isn’t the first (and most certainly won’t be the last) example of an ad that has garnered social clout from tasteless or controversial content, whether desired or detrimental.

Not too long ago, Starbucks launched a campaign titled ‘Race Together’ which aimed at tackling race relations in America by having employees engage customers in conversations about the delicate subject.

The backlash resulted in the burial of the campaign approaching a week of it’s launch, nothing the brand hasn’t bounced back from.

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On a similar note- Carl’s Jr. is renown for their controversy of sexism and objectifying women in their burger ads that has spurred the wrath of feminists in every direction.

Yet their consistent direction has driven sales only upwards with their CEO endorsing the ads as ‘really American’.

Since there hasn’t been a noteworthy ad that has capsized a brand, are advertisers wrong for relying on the public’s hardwired response to poisonous ads?

Perhaps the backlash is something Mercedes and the agency in question anticipated, or even employed.

To quote a phrase- “The worst case scenario is producing an ad so tame it immediately disappears on the public’s radar”.

What is your brand willing to try for brain space?
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