It’s been an interesting last five days. Never before have I ever had such a strong response to a post as the one I got for the Superette ads (my blog was even quoted in yesterday’s Herald on Sunday). At this stage it’s up to 90 comments (and still growing), and there must have been at least 20 comments I’ve denied because of swearing or irrelevant nastiness. It’s amazing to me – sometimes I’ll do a post that I think will create a huge stir, it’ll get no comments at all, and sometimes I’ll do one not knowing what the response will be and it’ll go nuts. I just had a read through all the comments and thought I’d write a little summary of what I thought of it all.
I’m always fascinated by ads, images, collections, films etc that garner a giant reaction. It’s better to polarise people than to get a lukewarm reaction – much better to be loved or hated than merely tolerated. Someone has to be doing something right to be able to get under people’s skins to the point where they can’t just sit there and not speak out. (Please note that when I say the above, I mean in relation to creative work, I’m never going to be impressed by somebody, say, making public racist statements and getting a reaction.)
So, despite the overwhelmingly negative response to the Superette ads, I personally feel like they were a success. How often does a boutique clothing shop from little old New Zealand make international news? You can’t buy that sort of publicity. And, like a friend mentioned to me yesterday, while she didn’t like the ads, they wouldn’t stop her from shopping at Superette. On the flip side, another friend totally disagrees that all publicity is good publicity. He said that he would never want his brand to be associated with so much negativity.
My initial thought looking at the ads was that the imagery wasn’t as good as it could have been. The colours seemed a little too stylised, they were a bit too photoshopped for my liking and I just felt like the photographs could have been better. So the fact that there was a dead girl impaled by a fence didn’t actually mean too much to me, I kept looking at the pictures and thinking ‘it’s a shame the photo isn’t a bit prettier’. I’d be interested to see what Karen Inderbitzen Waller or Derek Henderson would have done with the same brief.
Then, there was the tagline – ‘BE CAUGHT DEAD IN IT’. A little tacky, a little crass, but semi funny all the same. That was my initial reaction. But because I saw the dead rollerskater girl image first, it didn’t occur to me that people would look at the ads from a suicide angle – in which case the statement ‘BE CAUGHT DEAD IN IT’ doesn’t even border on humorous. Surely the creatives at DDB knew exactly what they were doing by putting these ads out, and possibly they should have thought about that a little more carefully. That said, I’d assume that the creatives would be happy no matter what the response – so long as a response was given.
So with all that in mind, below were my favourite comments, both negative and positive.
1. “that’s exceptionally tasteless, as well as being a crude publicity grab by an overpriced and not especially exciting boutique.”
2. “i like them, particularly the first one, which is a complete copy of cecelia lisbon’s death in the virgin suicides, which is probably why i like them.”
3. “Interesting debate. I e-mailed the ad campaign around work here & had an unlikely response from one person – Dayna. All it said was;
“I like the orange dress”
I had to laugh.
There was absolutely no reference to the fact that the girl was impaled, whether the person liked/hated the ad campaign. All she saw and cared for was the garment.
Interesting that she didn’t give two hoots about the campaign itself, so it’s (I assume) desired effect failed in that department, yet at the same time it still sold what it was supposed to – the clothes.
Advertising seems to work regardless of the bore OR shock value.
So props to Superette. They got a reaction & their brand in peoples faces, people are talking about them and NOT about the store down the road and if all the Dayna’s of the world saw that campaign, they are gonna have a hell of a lot more customers.
4. “its a good point to bring up the fact that when hideous deaths are referenced merely to make a shock reaction there are always going to be those that get hurt who have experienced or witnessed something similar. as in the case of how suicide is used so casually and blantantly in modern life imagery and advertising, and those that have been through it suffer unnecessarily. its for these people that i feel sorry for and wish that they didnt have to feel the pain all over again when they least expect it because of some ad dickhead who thinks hes being funny.”
5. “The champagne bottle is obviously there to show that she was drunk and fell rather than pushed or (abused).
I love the way people get on their high horse when they think an ad is being using shock tactics but get over it folks this is our society today.
Look at movies, art, photography and even novels. Do you think if this kind of image was in any of these it would be getting so much attention. I don’t think so.
As far as the blood coming down the neck, this is an ad not a real situation therefor it’s been shot in a way to look beautiful rather than real. Blood running down the neck would have made it even more gory. Unnecessary I think.
And if Superette did get it for free then good on them. Anyone who volunteered wouldn’t have been forced to work on it and I’m sure they all had their own reasons for doing it.”
6. “Look at movies, art, photography and even novels. Do you think if this kind of image was in any of these it would be getting so much attention. I don’t think so.”
Probably not. The ‘beautiful corpse’ and our fascination with premature and violent death has long been a subject of artistic exploration. In those cases, though, it’s usually part of a greater work that is intended to explore questions about human nature. Not an attempt to sell us a frock.
Adding a commercial imperative makes an image like this, no matter how beautifully executed (no pun intended) into a glamorisation of violence for profit.”
7. “Whether we like it or not ‘shockvertising’ is a growing trend.
Using shock as a replacement for smart, sophisticated ideas is not the way to do it but a combination of the two makes a great ad.
I think this campaign does that.”
8. “Nice work Superette, bold move. I love them. Nice to see a fashion ad with an actual idea in it and not just looking pretty for pretty sake.”
9. “Go Superette! We having been talking about the ads all morning at work and we love them. Bold move alright!
Everyone else should stop b*tching and go away and try and do some decent work themselves..”
10. “I like it, the imagery is actually quite seemilngly reflective of peoples perception of the of the stores customer… stupid rich white girls, I find it rather amusing.
Perhaps the news headlines would read:
“Unnamed Girl, daughter of prominent Auckland business man falls to her death after last being seen in the toilets of an inner city gentle mans club, her family spokesperson say she did not drink or take drugs “
11. “This is brilliant, I think the amount of comments on this issue compared to Isaacs other posts speak for themselves. I’m sure at least 1 or 2 people are going to look out for superette and stick there head in because of this ad… So maybe job done here.
The comments on here amuse me, there are always short, sarcastic and anonymous comments targeted at the people who post longer thought provoking comments.
Good on you Gen for actually posting a comment that is worth reading and complements the post. Such is the beauty of blogging. Whether me or anyone else agrees with it is irrelevant.
I was hoping more of the 73 comments would be in the same vein rather than “Agreed”, or “Sarcastic response 101″.”
12. “Imagine you’re on a balcony.
It gives way and you fall, plumeting to your death.
Just before you hit the ground you look down and realise the last thing you will ever wear is some awful track pants and an oversized t shirt.
The day you die is your last opportunity to wear something amazing and imagine all the attention you will be getting, you want to look your best.
I think the point this ad is trying to make is wear something nice everyday because you never know when it will be your last.”
13. “Clever campaign? No. Tasteless campaign. When creativity exceeds all the boundaries of decency it becomes but a desperate attempt for publicity at any cost. Almost as if the young creative’s responsible for this campaign are hanging on to their jobs for grim death (ooops). I love the Kollective Kreativity of Kiwis (KKK). But this is just a tad gross. When some beautiful young woman is raped or slaughtered by a cretin whose mind is addled by the Methamphetimine, perhaps advertisers will think again.
I know there are some smart creatives in New Zealand. Intelligent and talented individuals who can dream up some glorious campaigns without resorting to splatter tactics.”
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