I have always been a fan of the Truth, anti-smoking campaigns. For one, I agree with the message they are trying to send, but I also love the creativity and guerilla marketing style the commercials portray. About a week ago though, I saw their latest ad and I have mixed feelings. It got me thinking, when does advertising become too over-the-top and distract from your message.
Their commercial is called Ugly Truth: Poop vs Pee, take a look:
I get that the Truth campaign is about shock value, but I feel like this is a bit much. When I saw it, I wasn’t shocked at the information they were giving me about smoking, I was shocked at the images I was seeing on the TV. Also, it took seeing the ad a few more times to really understand the message they were trying to pass along. Shocking or surprising content in a commercial is a valid tactic, but when does it become too much. Is there a point, at which we can say, that is too much shock value, our ad is losing its effectiveness?
I don’t have that answer, but what I can say is that a commercial or any ad should leave the recipient thinking about the product or service you are trying to sell. An ad should make someone want to go buy what you are selling or at least want to find out more about it. When a commercial gets to the point that it is all shock and no content I think it starts to be less effective. When people start to walk away thinking about how crazy a commercial or ad was instead of the message you were trying to give about your products or services, it may be time to start scaling back on the shock.
Author: Gary Balakoff