Though we say that America is the "land of the free" and that we have the "freedom of speech," and even though advertising, in many cases, falls under the protected speech clause, there are many concepts that you just won't see in the US of A.
Why? A number of reasons. It could be that our society is based on certain Puritanical beliefs. It could be that our system is more litigious in nature versus other developed nations. It could be that we are just more "politically correct" and would absolutely hate to promote an idea or concept that might offend someone. Anyone.
But that's okay. In some cases, that's a really good thing. Marketers and communicators reflect the norms of society, so if the majority of people want to look out for one another, it is hard to consider that as awful. And because certain beliefs are held so dear, some things are kept out of sight and out of mind. For example, prostitution and drugs are, for the most part, considered illegal in the majority of the United States. Therefore, we won't see much advertising catering to prostitution and drugs. Good thing for the American people? More than likely.
What we do disagree with is when concepts that are meant to be amusing are taken as if they're meant to be serious — or demeaning to the topic being parodied, which finally brings us to the point at hand. The ad below is a creative piece for an Italian tea company. Take a look.
If you can't read the copy, it says, "Don't drink and drive."
Yes, the concept shows kids drinking tea and then trying to drive their toy car, making a mess, and falling asleep at the end of their joyride.
Harmless? To ones with humor, sure. But could you imagine the hate this tea company would get if this — or the TV ad — ever ran in the States? Comparing a toddler drinking tea with drunk driving? You insensitive fools. Some Millennial blogger would write about why noone should drink the tea because her parents died in a drunk driving accident, and then the FTCs joke of an advertising regulatory council would try to make the company an example by writing up a press release shaming it.
So, yes, something like this probably won't be seen in the U.S.
Do we think it's the best creative in the world? No, not by far. But it's different. Aren't we all a little tired of the same exaggerated humor, or gender-empowerment, or prankvertising, or real-time reaction stuff? Can't we just be data-driven and creative again? Without people looking for something to be insulted about? Can't this creative create more conversation? Instead of drunk driving, maybe it can spark a conversation about statistics that say a lot of accidents happen when drivers are drowsy, too. Or, could it spark an interesting debate about children getting the right amount of sleep? Or, even more, letting kids play until they get tired, instead of sticking their faces to a screen?
Or, we can just hate it. Whatever you want to do.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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