I was interested to read about the bus adverts in South Wales that have created a lot of concern and in some cases outrage. The advert with the slogan ‘ride me all day..’ in front of a male or female model received 45 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority according to the BBC News website. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-32690534) Concerns have also been circulating on social media all day with many of the images being shared.
The company have, I believe, agreed to remove the adverts and have apologised for causing any offense. However, they said they were trying to engage with a younger audience and encourage them to use buses. The aim was clearly to be a bit cheeky to attract attention. So when does creativity take a step to far?
Anyone working in a communication role faces the continued challenge of looking for ways to get people interested in advice, products or services. The world is now stuffed with advertising. It happens every second of every day and I dread to think how many times during the day I will be subjected to advertising messages. It is inevitable that we are all going to try to push things further and further to gain people’s interest.
There are times during my working life when I have appeared to be the killjoy as I questioned PR and advertising techniques that we may have been considering. However, the threshold of what is pushing the boundaries and what is inappropriate is continually changing. It is not something that is the same from one week to the next and being able to read public opinion is not always easy.
The only way of dealing with it is to make sure that we involve focus groups in the development of advertising and PR campaigns. We have to gather representatives from the groups we are trying to reach and get their views and more importantly listen to their feedback about any ideas. It will stop the ‘who thought that was a good idea’ question that is now being thrown at the South Wales bus company.