You Have to Be Evocative to be Viral

With a late July/early August vacation followed by a medical procedure, I have committed the mortal sin of any blogger.  I haven’t written anything for over a month.  Fortunately, I have a colleague who regularly sends me ideas to prod me along in my quest to do this right.  She is terrific and writes for some of America’s best news organizations.  So in my vacation stupor she sent me the news that Goodby Silverstein & Partners fell into trouble when they created a provocative milk ad for the California Milk Processor Board with PMS as the theme.  Their sin was that they used the man as the hero/antagonist.

They pushed milk as reducing PMS symptoms and used a microsite, everythingidoiswrong,org, hoping to entice men. The site’s tagline was “your home for PMS management.” You get the idea. Let’s make fun of PMS because Lord knows, men suffer when women suffer.

My colleague went on to wonder about their thinking. Did the creators really get sign off from women in the firm? Goodby got a lot of flack and withdrew the ad.  Goodby himself reflected that the campaign did a service in showing the power of the Internet.  Then he acknowledged how much things have changed since they tried something similar several years ago.

My colleague was sure that a “sensitive man” like me would be very harsh on the folks at Goodby.  So here is the problem.

I….um……well……you see…….cough, cough………I like the ad.  I think it’s funny.  And I am not sure how many women are really offended by it.

Of course, I am probably wrong.  My wife knows that I really am not such a sensitive man.  Just a guy who kind of found it funny.  I did find this news report with a lot of people who agree.

I meet so many clients that want a viral ad but don’t want to offend anyone.  But, to be viral one needs to be evocative. And one can’t be evocative without offending somebody. And I did show it to my wife. A very, strong self-assured woman.  And she liked the ad as well.  So…thanks Goodby…. And sorry you had to pull the ad.

About Rick Milenthal

I’m the Chairman of Engauge, one of the nation’s largest independent agencies. At Engauge, we leverage creativity and technology to develop transformational ideas that connect brands and people. Engauge, which has offices in Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Orlando, is a portfolio company of Halyard Capital. Our client roster includes Nationwide Insurance, DAD’S Pet Care, The Home Depot, Best Buy For Business, Chick-fil-A, Brown-Forman, Food Lion, Van Gogh Vodka, and NGK Spark Plugs, among others. I’ve spent more than twenty-five years in the advertising and marketing industries. Before launching Engauge, I served as chairman of TenUnited and Worldwide Partners, Inc. This blog will focus on my everyday observations about marketing strategies and implementations. In particular, I’m interested in the ways that companies handle ideas: how inspiration begins, how it evolves, and how it translates in the real world. I’m looking forward to a conversation with you.
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