Friday, February 20, 2009
City Of Ottawa Quizzed Over Atheist Ad Rejection
I have a good friend and colleague in the advertising business named Brad Boechler from Moodswing Media. His blog this month had a great take on exactly what's the bottom line when it comes to controversial adverting. Here is his take on how
"The City of Ottawa has been Quizzied Over Atheist Ad Rejection. Enjoy this -- its a great piece. -- by Brad Boechler
Ottawa is being questioned over why it rejected atheist ads proclaiming "There's probably no God.”
OTTAWA — the chair of Ottawa's transit committee will demand that city staff explain why they refused to allow atheist ads on city buses, even though ads quoting the Bible have been approved by the city and could appear on buses at any time.
The atheist ads, which say, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," began in Britain and have spread around the world.
In Canada they've been on buses in London, Calgary, and Toronto, but were rejected by city staff in Halifax and Ottawa.
Justin Trottier, president of the Free thought Association of Canada, the ads' sponsor, said his group might ask a lawyer if their right to freedom of speech has been breached.
DID you spot it? Did you see The Worst Word in Advertising?
It is the word “probably.”
The fact that The Free Thought Association uses the word “probably” implies that even they aren’t absolutely convinced in their message. Is there an after life or not? Does GOD exist? Take a stand as a true believing atheist, (oxymoron) the sign should have read: There is No God, Enjoy Life.
If they are right and there is not a higher power, no harm no foul. Who is going to know? It just means that we are all in for “the big dirt sleep” nothing more.
I think that they use “probably” just in case they are wrong and hope that God has a sense of humor. “Oh, Hello Lord, imagine my red face.”
I find the whole issue humorous.
The Free Thought Association has received thousands of dollars worth of free and undeserved local media exposure.
But the word “probably” is not what has generated the attention.
The key to this campaign’s success is that Free Thought needed some uptight bureaucrat to refuse the advertising and that is exactly what they got. If Halifax, Ottawa and other Canadian cities would have accepted this ad placement as a normal course of business as they accept advertising with religious connotations, this campaign would have caused only mild curiosity and would have gone somewhat unnoticed. The Free Thought people were betting on the fact that the public sector is frozen with fear of offending anyone and it worked. I would be surprised if this story is getting as much play in the news in the cities that have accepted the campaign.
If you want to continue to wonder about whether advertising and marketing works use wishy-washy, milk toast, hedge your bet words like “probably”.
Create concepts that define who you are and what you stand for clearly and imaginatively.
What if some of the most familiar and famous marketers used the atheist approach to advertising. Would you be convinced of their quality of product or the passion for their business?
McDonalds: I’m Probably Lovin’ it.
Nike: You Should Probably Just do it.
Home Depot: You Might do it. We can Probably Help.
Staples: That was Probably Easy.
Allstate Insurance: You’re Probably in Good Hands, Maybe.
WOW! Can you feel the connection, the impact?
If you want your advertising and media dollars to go further, simply offend someone.
By the way, The Free Thought people say the ads are part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the rights of non-believers. So I intend to do “nothing.”
There Is Probably No Recession. Stop Worrying. Now Spend Your Money.
I am almost positive that I have made my point today, so I will leave you a few random thoughts:
- Would a sign on an atheist restaurant read; No shirt No shoes No God?
- Do atheists tell their kids about Santa Claus?
- I have heard that atheist dyslectics don’t believe in dogs.
Stay in good mood,
You can reach Brad at Moodswing Media at Brad Boechler@rogers.com, he's a great guy and great marketing pro... and he is out of job and needs work, call him, he can help.