After what looked like a Legal clash between Mumsnet and Beta from their controversial ad campaign ‘Career Women Make Bad Mothers’ agency Beta are forced to apologise.
OAA, The Outdoor Advertising Assosciation launched a controversial advert stating ‘Career Women Make Bad Mothers’ in large outdoor banner advertisements. This was probably meant to show how powerful out door advertising can be, however all it did was cause upset and hurt to many working Mums who felt this public display criticised their lifestyle in a cruel way that they are harming their children through working.
The OAA seemed to have come away relatively unscathed as website and forum, Mumsnet, saw various complaints of the ad directed at the advertising agency Beta, from upset users of the site.
After a legal battle between Mumsnet and Beta,ironically both claiming hurt and damaged reputation, both parties have drawn a line under the dispute. Mumsnet have removed all abusive comments and both have apologised for any hurt caused by the campaign.
The thing that I am interested in is how did this ever happen? Surely someone at OAA or Beta must have though,’hang on a minute this might upset someone?’. They couldn’t have picked a worse demographic, high powered, intelligent business women with a maternal protective instinct for their children, this was asking for trouble!
Sensationalist advertising can be very risky, but possibly OAA though any publicity is good publicity. It hasn’t gotten people queuing up for outdoor ads, more people are talking about Mumsnet and Beta in response to this advertisement rather than OAA, but who is accountable when a legal battle begins?
A lot of people come to an agency for help and advice, they feel their expertise are best placed in what they know and for the good of their business will go to agencies as ‘experts’ to help in areas they have less experience. This puts pressure on the agency to do well and agency’s should always realise this. I have come across clients who have asked ‘why didn’t you tell me I needed this from the beginning’ etc, that is why now I give clients all the options, and often phase development out depending on their budget, that way they know the end result and we can help them get a better product for less investment.
When it comes to marketing, whether it is Internet marketing or more traditional marketing, you can cause more damage than the client losing a bit of money long term, you are playing with their brand, their reputation!
If you are going to do a sensationalist marketing campaign that may do very well and give them lots of exposure, you also have to tell them any risks. Ask them are they sure as if they have doubts another solution may be necessary. It is easy to get caught up in a marketing plan and excited about a campaign but think of who will see it, how will it be received by the public or target audience?
If I were Beta I would have gotten the client to state in writing that they wanted to go ahead with the campaign, informed them it may not be taken in the best way, and if they still went ahead make sure there was material to counter balance the attack.
If you have experience in an Industry you need to be aware people will trust your opinion, at SEO Creative we are careful not to make mistakes that could damage our clients reputation, even if it means we lose a potentialy good viral campaign.
If you are a client and have any doubts on an advert, speak up or your agency may put any ramifications onto you!