Ad campaigns need to match society’s values and opinions

Consumers today are bombarded with advertising or advertising messages: on the radio, on TV, on billboards, in magazines, on social media sites and games, as well on internet sites. We can’t avoid them, as it is cluttered space. Advertising campaigns want to be different, to stand out and to grab attention so that the target market are aware of the organisation’s products or services so that they will buy them now or in the future. Yes advertising needs to be creative but as important is knowing the target market: what opinions or behaviour they have that the advertisement can tap into to grab their attention. Therefore, having the right message for that target market is as important as creativity but still some organisations don’t develop ads with their target market in mind, and the consequences can be expensive.

An example of a company not knowing their target market is Victoria’s Secret in their recent campaign that was launched in early November 2014. This campaign showed the beautiful Angel’s in their lingerie with the tag line ‘The Perfect Body’.




Three students at Leeds University in England, Frances Black, Gabrielle Kountourides and Laura Ferris started a petition on, claiming the ad campaign promoted “unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty”. The petition did receive 33,002 supporters. In addition to signing the petition, they asked supporters to tweet #iamperfect to @VictoriasSecret to help spread the message. This went viral and caused negative backlash to the lingerie giant. Victoria Secret’s response was immediate, changing the tagline to a weird ‘A body for Every Body’.

Having to pull their original ad and replace it would have cost them quite a bit. So why and how did they now know that society was reacting to the fashion industry’s unrealistic images? If they paid attention to the opinions and beliefs of society, they would have saved a reasonable amount of money as well as their reputation.

ford_FigoAnother example was for the Ford Figo in India in 2013, although never officially launched or approved as Ford has stated but they were showcased online on the website ‘Ads of the World’. The ad depicted the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berusconi giving a peace sign with three women tied up and gagged in the trunk with the tag line ‘Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot”.  There were a series of these ads, this is just one.

The ad is creative and the message of a roomy boot is clear, however these ads came from a country that at the time was sensitive due to a gang rape situation that obtained international media attention. Certainly not a good time to release such a campaign and showed a complete disregard of the gang rape controversy. This ad campaign resulted in very negative feedback for Ford in India, with Ford having to publicly apologise.

Other organisations can learn from these situations when they are developing an ad campaign:- Don’t go against society’s beliefs. Consumers are more empowered than ever, and social media has allowed everyone’s voice to be heard. It is important to be creative and to cut through the advertising clutter. One of the best ways, is for organisations to know and understand their target market so that their message is appropriate, and reaches and is understood by their target market.

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