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Advertising and Marketing

Marketing Rule #1 – Don’t Use the “F” Word in Your Advertising

What really is Marketing Rule #1?

Offensive AdsI’m extremely saddened by the lack of decency in advertising these days. When we think of advertising that is quite distasteful, we may think of ads with sexual innuendos like this offensive ad from Burger King. I guess it doesn’t take a lot of inspection to see this ad doesn’t feature an innuendo but a woman with a really strange sexual attraction to seven inch sandwiches from Burger King. To give Americans credit, this Burger King ad didn’t run in American markets, but was relegated to Singapore. But who was responsible for the final decision? Well, the world headquarters of Burger King is in Miami, Florida, so it was an American executive who had the ultimate responsibility for what their international division did. Burger King knows, like most advertisers, that sex sells. Maybe that should be Marketing Rule #1, at least that’s what some would suggest.

Stop the cursing

In my search for more tasteless ads, I came across a great post about why advertising has traveled down the short road to indecency. In his post, “All this F—ing Cursing Makes the Ad Business Look Sh–ty,” Dan Goldgeier says on TalentZoo.com:

We may be becoming too accustomed to using profanity, though. So we try to inject a little of this attitude into the work we present to clients. But the only reason curse words get used is for shock value. It adds a little over-the-top emphasis, as any George Carlin or Chris Rock fan will attest. However, the prevalent use of cursing gradually desensitizes us. And if our job is to perpetually push boundaries, where do we take our work from here?

Dan is so correct in the question he asks. What’s next? I guess porn stars in Los Angeles, since they are now required to wear condoms during filming of their porno flicks, will be advertising Trojan condoms in between thrusts and groans and moans. How about an elephant and donkey having anal sex with a voice over saying, “Asparagus goes best with anal sex.” I mean really, where will all end? By the way, that would be an ad for asparagus, not an ad for anal sex.

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Only if you don’t want your identity stolen

We should stop this now

But I’m not into where things will go but actually where they are starting. Please go read Dan’s post to see details about a German company and their very offensive ad campaign which blatantly uses the “F” word. But what about trying to make the “F” word in advertising funny? It takes some of the bite out of it. When a cute little elf in a Christmas related radio ad uses the “F” word by saying the word, “elfin'” instead of “f—king,” it’s offensive to some and to those it doesn’t offend, it seems they’ve already been desensitized.

Seconds and Surplus (Seconds & Surplus) is a home improvement store with three locations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. They’re based here in the Bible belt. I bet the owners and many of the workers are probably believers in Christ and church goers. This raises the question as to why they would approve an ad with a magical little elf who uses slang for the actual “F” word. I’m ashamed of Seconds and Surplus and I’m ashamed of the radio stations that play their ad.

Believe it or not, little kids listen to these radio stations with their parents. Most of these parents are trying to raise their children to be respectful with their speech. Kids mimic radio ads. It happens all the time. They especially mimic cute little elves during Christmas season, especially when they hear those elves on Seconds and Surplus commercials.

Keep the cute ad Seconds and Surplus, but please edit it to be decent. Whether or not you use the specific letters F-K-U-C in their proper order, you still broke Marketing Rule #1 which is: “Don’t use the ‘F’ word in your advertising.


2 Responses to “Marketing Rule #1 – Don’t Use the “F” Word in Your Advertising”

  1. Hi Brian,
    I just came across this…thanks for the kind words about my column and adding your perspective.

    Posted by Dan Goldgeier | February 24, 2013, 5:40 pm

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