Friday, January 25, 2008

But what if people think...?

Probably my least favourite way to begin a sentence.

It usually emanates from an account handler, and it usually presages some way your concept could be misinterpreted, often to be offensive.

Normally, that misreading involves drawing a fairly long bow. Which doesn't mean that consumers won't do it.

As in this article from today's Guardian, which maintains that "some companies are now revelling in taunting environmentalists over climate change".

Not on the strength of the ads presented here they're not.

Only one - Jeep's "The end is never nigh" - openly espouses denial.

The rest - with lines like "Greed is good" (in which alliteration disguises the lack of an idea) and "Most people prefer a hot climate" (used to advertise an allegedly hot-looking car called a Climate. Ho ho) - are certainly insensitive to climate change. But they're not setting out to provoke. They're clumsy rather than malevolent.

The most grievous misreading is saved for this French edf ad.

French energy company EDF appears not to have done its homework before deciding to use the famous Easter Island statues to convince customers that it "develops tomorrow's energy for future generations." Erm - the Easter Island population collapsed from deforestation and overpopulation. "The statues are a symbol of hubris and denial in the face of an impending environmental disaster," says on its website. "What staggering stupidity to use them to promote nuclear power."

Somehow, I think edf realise all of that. In fact, the whole point of the ad is to promote nuclear as a green option that will prevent us all suffering the fate of the Easter Islanders. A load of old cobblers of course, but your argument is with the underlying message, not the way they've chosen to communicate it.

All in all, a fairly sobering reminder of just how difficult it can be to get your message across coherently if you touch on an area that inflames the passions.

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