A few months ago, I was driving through Manchester one Sunday night (dad in the passenger seat) when we stopped at some lights. And there suddenly in front of us was a HUGE billboard – emblazoned with just one word. I’ll not tell you what the word was, except that (to me, at least) it’s ugly and offensive.
Dad spluttered slightly and there was a momentary silence, while we tried to work out what message the billboard was trying to convey.
In the end, we concluded it was designed to be a shock tactic, but even hours later, I was still irritated by it. I googled (with some trepidation) and discovered it was advertising a ‘bold’ energy drink.
‘Bold and classy’ said the website.
Anyway, I’m not one for petitions and complaining to government departments, but the more I read on their website, the more annoyed I felt. So, feeling a little like one of those indignant complaining types, (which I’m not) I hammered out a complaint to the Powers-That-Be (also known as the ASA).
I didn’t really know what to say, but tried to explain that I wasn’t really annoyed that the product existed or that it had an offensive name. I was more annoyed that a ‘bold’ advert had the power to figuratively burst into my car with its nasty language and create an awkward, embarrassing moment between my passengers and I.
In my view, that is not ok. That is way beyond what an advert should be able to do.
And as it turned out, the ASA took it seriously too – I found out this week that 144 other people also objected, the complaint was upheld and the ad can’t be used again in its current form.
You could argue that this ‘suppression’ of the drink’s advert will only drive more people to the product. Maybe it will! But, I still wanted to say, ‘Hey…I don’t like that’ and feel like someone heard me.
And it was heard. It reminded me that sometimes, ordinary citizens DO have a voice.
If we pick our battles wisely, and exercise grace, perhaps we CAN make a difference?
P.s if you really want to know what the ad was about, here’s the ruling.