Thursday, November 30, 2006

Advocacy Advertising

I want to get away from the charming public policy hothouse that is the NL political environment and look at something completely different.

One part of the wider public affairs environment is the communications influence of the not-for-profit advocacy groups. Because they are not wedded to corporate bottom lines or political conventions, they are free to go where others fear to tread in their advertising. They can be creative and shocking, pushing the envelope of what is acceptable.

Partially they need to do that because of the need to hack though the clutter of the advertising cloud in general. Another key reason is that advocacy not-for-profits have less money to spend so they need bang for their bucks.

Here's a series of ads from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. These cover the dangers of drinking and driving. Be prepared: they will jolt you.

Not all ads are intended to shock but they are intended to provoke. This is a very simple European print ad warning of the dangers of childhood obesity. It's not preachy, technical or sappy but it does get the point across.

Finally, the anti-smoking lobby has produced some brilliant ads over the years exploiting the effect of tobacco to make the audience come up short. They have been highly provocative spanning every human emotion. They have to be memorable considering the slick and expensive pro-smoking ads they have to counter.

These ads from are rare combinations of shock and humor and are sort of a form of guerrilla advertising. They have put out many ads over the last 5 years or so and they are all worth viewing.

Here, they attack the tobacco corporations themselves.

Finally I leave the best for last. An enduring cigarette advertising icon is the cowboy - rugged, independent and free. The smoking cowboy was used to great effect in the movie Thank you for Smoking which I highly recommend as an insight into high-level backroom lobbying and communications.

This ad also uses the smoking cowboy - it's my favorite. It's a combination of chill and humor that's hard to forget. Watch the reactions on the faces of the people on the street to the singing cowboy; you can't rehearse responses like that.

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