Controversial advertising is great for picking up headlines. Don’t believe us?
Check out the marketing campaigns of your favourite brands and you will see how much buzz a controversial ad creates. Does it malign the image of the brand? No. Does it provide the brand extra footage and help it reach a wider audience organically? Of course, it does.
Controversial advertising should not be equated with gaining a bad reputation. However, when done in the wrong way, negative publicity is the only possible outcome. No matter the kind of reputation you build, gaining attention is a must and it is done aptly by portraying some controversy with your brand. Just check how Pepsi was able to create massive buzz about its brand, even though the Kylie Jenner ad received heat from the world over. That is how controversial advertising works in the modern day. It may rub some people off, but it can also make heads turn.
Controversy and humour often go hand in hand. Note that in the case of both these types of advertising, the perception of the audience is entirely subjective. You must craft your message cleverly in order to ensure that it is remembered. Note that there is a difference between ‘negative’ and controversial. When something is negative, it suffers a backlash. However, when something is controversial, it gains more attention and sometimes even finds some support or indifference. The main idea is to not get an outlandish backlash. Check the VW Polo campaigns by Volkswagen. Let’s check out how Vindis, a VW dealership views this campaign.
Is it clever advertising at work?
Volkswagen capitalizes on current issues on gain better promotion. Their motto with VW Polo is simple ‘small but tough’ and this can be effortlessly blended into many current affairs topics. They cleverly used a viral picture of an elephant using their car as a scratching post to suggest that Polo is equipped with ‘Elephant Impact Protection as Standard’. The image was real and the advertising was very clever. The brand knew that its ‘small but tough’ propagation has found great marketing in the original viral picture.
Volkswagen also used the power of the internet to make its campaign work wonders. They know the potential of the medium and use it perfectly to their own advantage. They perfected viral marketing for their brand and spread their message across clearly and quickly. Remember the 2002 campaign when Volkswagen literally parked their Polo atop a billboard. Now that’s clever marketing.
Can your SME brand use controversial and funny ads?
What SMEs need the most is user attention. Adding a bit of controversy and humour in your advertisements can do the trick. Make sure that your message doesn’t get lost within the controversy. Eventually, your aim is to get more people to see your message. There are still ‘safer topics’ in controversy that a small brand can get away with.
Focus on reactive marketing as it can possibly bring more focus your way. Shock adverts are also a great idea. Just make sure that you take advantage of this digital age and work with social media apps to make your message heard loud and clear.