Friday 1 July 2016

Partners in Crime

Two ads have come to my attention this week that use criminals/offenders/call them what you will to draw attention to and sell products. And while one of these certainly stole my attention, the other is a crime against advertising, as far as I'm concerned.

I'll start with the ad above - Free the Kids: Dirt is Good  from Persil. This film on an epic scale has been dreamed up by Unilever in conjunction with education advocate Sir Ken Robinson. No expense was spared in getting a top notch director and filming in Wabash Maximum Security Prison, Indiana. The idea, or insight, is that even these top security prisoners get more time outside than 'our' children - two hours instead of one.

I really don't like this ad at all. And not because it's controversial, or edgy, or anything like that. It's not. The faux documentary style is becoming a yawn these days, with all that slow motion, depressing music and that awful worthy and sanctimonious tonality.

Then there's the contrived link to Persil and 'dirt is good'. What on earth are they trying to do here? Finger-point at mums, saying 'you are treating your children worse than high security prisoners just because you don't want their clothes to get muddy, you selfish cow?'

And finally, this may make me unpopular but I really don't like the link between high security prisoners and children. These guys are not inside for stealing a packet of bubblegum or forgetting to pay a parking fine. I wonder how their victims feel about them being glamorised in a glossy ad campaign? And as for 'I'd love to take my kid to the park', my heart bleeds for him. Should have thought about that before committing whatever serious crime he did.

And now for the second ad - Shoplifters from Harvey Nichols. This is from adam&eveDDB and uses real security camera footage to promote the store's Loyalty Reward App.

This one has just won the Film Grand Prix at Cannes and, OK, it's directed at a completely different audience to the Persil ad but I think it's a great piece of film.

It's the opposite of yawn. I've never seen or heard anything quite like it before - it's quirky, funny, entertaining, clever. No big names, no heavy moralising, just a simple message about 'legal shopping highs.'

In this case, maybe crime does pay when it comes to advertising.

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