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 user 2009-05-29 at 12:26:38 pm Views: 33
  • #22069
    Angry Ads Seek to Channel Consumer Outrage
    mad men of Madison Avenue are really mad these days, creating a spate
    of angry advertising campaigns that seek to channel the outrage,
    frustration and fear felt by consumers hit hard by what some are
    calling the Great Recession.The campaigns take an outspoken,
    provocative tone that is unusual for mainstream marketing messages,
    which typically try to avoid aggrieved attitudes for fear of alienating
    audiences. The change reflects the significant shift in sentiment as
    the public reacts to the wrenching and, at times, frightening financial
    events of the last year.“We’re turning up the volume in relation to
    what our customers are feeling,” said Jeffrey W. Hayzlett, chief
    marketing officer at the Eastman Kodak Company, which is running ads
    for a new line of printers and inkjet cartridges that rant about a “$5
    billion stain” on the economy caused by “overpaying” for other brands
    of inkjet printer ink.“It’s a departure for us,” Mr. Hayzlett
    acknowledged, given the “touchy-feely” image the Kodak brand has long
    had, but “it’s right for today’s times.”

    Other brands trying to
    echo consumer anger include Post Shredded Wheat cereal, which declares
    in new ads that “Progress is overrated” and “Innovation is not your
    friend.” JetBlue Airways revels in the discomfort of chief executives
    forced off corporate jets by greeting them with a sardonic “Welcome
    aboard.”Miller High Life is being sold by a blue-collar character who
    delights in removing the beer from hoity-toity bars, restaurants and
    stores that he believes are shortchanging shoppers. And Harley-Davidson
    deplores “the stink of greed and billion-dollar bankruptcies” in a
    campaign that carries a rallying cry defiant enough to be unprintable
    in a family newspaper. “It felt like something that needed to be said,”
    said Jim Nelson, chief creative officer at Carmichael Lynch in
    Minneapolis, the Interpublic Group agency that creates ads for
    Harley-Davidson.The idea is to respond to “this climate of fear and
    worry and ‘What’s going to happen?’ ” Mr. Nelson said, with a campaign
    that will “strike an emotional chord.”“That unconventional, rebellious
    tone, that ‘I’m going to live my life no matter what,’ is something a
    lot of people could relate to,” he added.

    Harley-Davidson has increased its market share since the campaign began
    in May 2008, Mr. Nelson said, and there have been “thousands and
    thousands of comments” praising the ads.Kodak, Mr. Hayzlett said, is
    also pleased with the results of its angry ads, which are being created
    by Deutsch in New York, another Interpublic Group agency. Sales are
    “exceeding expectations” for printers and ink cartridges, he said.The
    campaigns represent the intensification of a trend that began last
    spring, when the economy started to show signs of stress.
    Harley-Davidson was among the first marketers to try telling consumers
    it, too, was angry about how things were going.“You need to walk in the
    shoes of the average consumers today,” said Marc Brownstein, president
    and chief executive at the Brownstein Group advertising agency in
    Philadelphia. “They’re a little beat up and their wallets are lighter,
    and the people they trusted stole from them.”Marketers “have got to
    rebuild that trust,” said Mr. Brownstein, who blogs about the agency
    business for the trade publication Advertising Age, by being “brutally
    honest” in their ads.

    “Candor is in,” he advised.
    Shredded Wheat, sold by the Post Foods division of Ralcorp Holdings,
    tries being candid in a campaign centered on a make-believe boss named
    Frank Druffel who wonders, “Has progress taken us to a better place?”
    and concludes, “I’d say it’s taken us for a ride. (Probably in a
    carbon-coughing oil guzzler.)” The point is to present the brand,
    unchanged since 1892, as the cereal that “put the ‘no’ in innovation.”

    tone reflects a belief now widespread among “fed-up” consumers that “as
    the world gets more complicated, the more trouble we get ourselves in,”
    said Tim Piper, creative director at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in
    New York, the WPP agency that creates campaigns for Post cereals.The
    boss character is supposed to be “a speaker for the truth,” Mr. Piper
    said, “who could say what no one else is saying.”That tack is also
    being taken by JetBlue Airways in its “Welcome bigwigs” campaign,
    created by JWT in New York. “Looks like the days of padded paychecks,
    fancy drapes and private jets are over,” one ad declares. “But hey,
    there is a bright side” — flying on JetBlue, with amenities like “comfy
    leather seats” that can assuage the sting of losing private plane
    privileges.The JetBlue ads “poked at the guys bringing down the
    economy,” said Wayne Best, executive creative director at JWT, also
    owned by WPP, but were not intended to cross into fury or
    mean-spiritedness.In the words of Fiona Morrisson, director for
    advertising and brand at JetBlue, “We weren’t looking for
    Versailles.”“Offering a hand to the beleaguered C.E.O.’s, telling them
    it’s not so bad in the real world, brought the idea to life in a
    tongue-in-cheek way people could relate to,” she said.

    In other
    words, there may be a limit to how incensed a large corporation can get
    in an ad.“People are disaffected and disillusioned,” said Marc E.
    Babej, president of Reason Inc. in New York, a brand and corporate
    strategy consulting company, and siding with them can help advertisers
    “grab a bit of attention.”“But I would be careful as a marketer about
    playing with the notions of ‘We understand you’ or ‘We’re on your
    side,’ ” Mr. Babej said, “because there’s some risk of it harming you
    if it’s not really relevant to your product.”Or as Mr. Brownstein of
    the Brownstein Group put it, “You can’t anger people into buying your

    In which category might anger be appropriate? Perhaps
    for one of the ground zeroes of the economy, financial services. A
    campaign for the Bessemer Trust Company, which helps the wealthy manage
    their money, carries this frank headline: “Why should you believe
    anything we say?”“Rarely in history have so many been so violated by so
    few,” the text begins. “We understand. We’re as angry as you are,
    because the actions of those few have cast a pall of doubt and
    suspicion over everyone even remotely related to the financial

    The ad addresses consumers as if “they are basically
    frozen in place,” said Orson Munn, chief executive at Munn Rabôt in New
    York, the Bessemer Trust agency. “You have to speak with them in a way
    that shocks them out of being frozen.”“It’s a very fine line, because
    if we go too far it’ll push the brand over the edge,” he said. “But you
    have to feel a little uncomfortable with advertising for it to work.”