Message Value or Shock Value?

SnoreStop BillboardA controversial billboard that caused a stir in Los Angeles, and then was denied in New York, will now pop up in Chicago this week. The ad features an enlisted American soldier and a Muslim woman in a loving embrace. It’s designed to promote a throat spray to reduce snoring. OK, sure.

SnoreStop, a California-based company, claims the ad is part of a larger campaign intended to communicate the message, “If we can keep this couple together, we can keep anyone together.”1

The initial ad placement first caused controversy in Los Angeles, with folks taking to the company’s Facebook page to voice opposition for insensitivity. Others applauded the billboard’s diversity and inclusiveness. But then Clear Channel refused to erect the billboard in NYC’s Times Square, citing its “sensitive nature” and ”uncomfortable imagery.”So, on to the Windy City!

Given the timing now, right smack in this season of supposed “goodwill to all,” you have to wonder what’s up here? Seems like someone is going for a little shock value. In my opinion, sensitivities aside, the ad simply does not creatively make sense, especially as a quick-read billboard. It implies that the company’s cure for snoring will keep deeply-seeded opposites together? Really? Now I get that a snoring partner is pretty annoying. But did they take things a little too far? Is the visual actually a distraction to the real product benefit?

I guess there is the theory that any press SnoreStop got would get the product noticed. But to me, if you have to come out and TELL people what your intended message was because they didn’t get it when they saw your ads, well…


Source: 1.  2.

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