Before you scroll down to it, take a second to ask yourself what kind of messages in public would you want your teen to see, and what kind would go too far? Hard to get your head around isn’t it? Usually we don’t know these things until we see them.
This is often the agency’s dilemma.
We know shock advertising works. As pointed out in this blog post on the subject, emotional persuasion is probably going to break through better than rational.
Some human behaviours simply demand shocking advertising to strip them down publicly, or graphic imagery to break through the mind-numbing volume of messages hailing down on us.
But as our tolerance levels shift upwards (think about the use of profanity on TV), we see increasingly disturbing images and messages to drive public awareness of all manner of human nastiness, from smoking to pedophilia to animal cruelty. If it works, is the success alone reason enough to endure it?
When I see a particularly shocking ad on a public issue, be it parternalistic or criminal, I always find myself wondering at what point in the parabola of public tolerance such an idea would not have been acceptable.
I recently shared with you the effective work being done in Montana to combat teen use of meth. The campaign worked because it welcomed teens into a meth addict’s life.
The French anti-smoking ads are all metaphor. The strategy reminds me of a campaign used in the US about a decade ago that depicted suited boardroom tobacco execs laughing and counting the money as kids out there lit up. The tobacco companies tried to sue these off the air and failed.
I would have been ok with my kids seeing that one. But did these French ads go too far?