Goes great with rat droppings!

I’m betting this is not a real ad. I got it from Psychographism, a website trafficking in ad-like objects, some real and some not. I’m guessing this clever piece of outdoor propaganda belongs in the latter camp. Frankly, I’m hoping it does. Call me crazy but linking coffee to New York’s sewer system seems like a very bad idea. Especially for such a well known brand as Folgers. They would never do something this down and dirty. Not in a million years.

Zealous students of Adland (the likely makers of this work) are increasingly in the habit of creating risqué advertising, regardless of good sense. Their hearts are more or less in the right place but they are not thinking. Clearly.

Clever as this execution is, it suggests the product tastes like something steaming from below a sewer. In my book that’s a deal breaker.

Where do these ideas come from? My fear is that certain portfolio schools are partly responsible. Teachers and students alike want so much to get noticed that they abandon reason to achieve notoriety. They see fame factories like Crispin Porter & Bogusky making shock and awe and they assume they can and should as well. They see ever more crazy shit on You Tube and they assume stunts and badass behavior constitute the new standard for modern advertising. They saw famous actresses crapping in the streets in the Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids and, well, it and they were nominated for Academy awards!

Therefore, they think: Who cares if it’s a sewer? It’s shaped like a cup of coffee and steam comes out of it. That would make a great ad for Folgers!

True story. A long time ago I was working on a beer account, either Miller or Bud, I forget. (I’ve worked on both.) Anyway, we were in the middle of a big creative presentation and this team presents a commercial set in the bathroom of a bar. It was clever and it got a lot of laughs. But it was also killed. Promptly. The Creative Director pointed out that while beer drinkers do take lots of pisses the brewery would never tolerate their golden liquid being associated with that golden liquid. Or as my amigo, Joe Dapier reminds: “The reason this ambient doesn’t work is the same reason people don’t advertise on urinal cakes.”

Has advertising “evolved” is such a way that prudent creative direction no longer holds water?

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