Just Asking

Many years ago, Kevin Kearns and I worked at Arnold [on] HMO Blue Cross in Massachusetts. As part of our offbeat campaign, we created a print ad that played off a person’s fear of bats—the flying kind. Turns out there is a very well organized “friends of the bat” lobby out there, and they inundated Blue Cross with letters protesting the villainous treatment of bats, and demanded that the ad be pulled, which Blue Cross did immediately. I wouldn’t put images of dentures in ads meant for young males, and likewise, I wouldn’t put images from Maxim in ads for 70-year-olds. The question is: Who are we talking to? I wonder who found this ad offensive because I think it speaks to its audience. If you’re meant to get it, you get it.Yes. There are some things that are socially irresponsible to use to promote a product or brand. Child pornography. An aborted fetus. Hillary Clinton naked. We can’t consider ourselves above the social norms. There’s a little bit of self-censorship that has to occur.I wouldn’t put anything representing the five major crime families in New York for fear of retribution.

Absolutely. There are several images that should never be considered. They include hairy, overweight men in speedos, sheep without wool, kids playing with matches, brown plaid and anything to do with sex, drugs and Michael Jackson. Other than those, we rely on a technical marketing application called common sense.