VIVA PABLO!

If we learn anything from most public service advertising campaigns, it is usually how not to run an advertising campaign.

They usually talk down to people so much that the immediate reaction of any red-blooded individual must be to go out and do whatever it is the advertisement is telling us not to do.

So a recent British television campaign intended to discourage the use of cocaine deserves credit for being a glorious exception.

Most anti-drug campaigns rely on threats – threats of legal sanctions, threats of damage to health, threats of the social and financial consequences of addiction, and so on.

They never work because drug addicts have little, if any, control over their addiction and responding to a patronising government advert is always going to be way down their priority list.

The brilliance of the recent campaign lay in the way the ad-men identified about the only thing most British people really do care about: animals.

The advertisement looks at cocaine from the point of view of Pablo, a likeable dog who has been used as a “drug mule” and cut open.

Of course, those whose compulsion for a drug is so great that they are prepared to wreck their nostrils, health in general and ultimately their lives are not going to abandon the habit because of an advert. However Pablo shows how an innovative approach can give a new edge in pitching to a notoriously difficult market.

Most marketing campaigns fail because they try to convince the public that they ought to desire something when the public could not care less. The better strategy is to identify what the public do care about and then try to connect to that.

Comments

March 3. 2009 07:06

Stuart Fairney

"the immediate reaction of any red-blooded individual must be to go out and do whatever it is the advertisement is telling us not to do"

EXACTLY.

I feel the need to binge-drink, take up smoking, litter, fly, drive, turn the heating up, not recycle, carry a knife, eat food from 6,000 miles away... etc

Please, no government campaigns on avoiding romance in the marriage, as I would be faced with quite the conundrum!

Stuart Fairney

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