Thursday, January 05, 2006

How to dodge stupid regulations, in one easy lesson

Are you an industry man (or some other type of person), tired of having to follow rules put out by technocrats who hide behind the thinnest of claims of democratic legitimacy? Well, why not ignore them, and then adjust your actions just enough to claim you're following them?... You'd be following in the footsteps of the shoulders of giants. Case Study 1: Selling toothpaste So you're involved in the noble art of trying to get people to switch to yet another "best ever" variation of an essential lifestyle product, like toothpaste? Why not say that dentists recommend it? What do you mean, you're not allowed? Who says? Oh, the Advertising Standards Thingymajigy! Who?


8.1.2 Impressions of professional advice and support

The following are not acceptable in advertisements for products or treatments within the remit of Section 8:

(a) presentations of doctors, dentists, veterinary surgeons, pharmaceutical chemists, nurses, midwives etc, which give the impression of professional advice or recommendations

(b) statements giving the impression of professional advice or recommendation by people who are presented, whether directly or by implication, as being qualified to give such advice or recommendation

Well, their English is beautiful and mysterious, so they must be important and all-knowing. Their utmost and paramount desire is to serve the people, all the people, and nothing but the (other) people. God Bless Them All.

But wait, what about the need to increase the profits on toothpastes this quarter? Dentist recommendations are the best, and possibly only way forward. How about...

Case study 1a: ...getting a dentist to recommend the general idea of the new product, cutting in a screenshot of the actual product, and then showing a happy (preferably attractive and female) citizen who claims to be using the product in the screenshot? Colgate thought of that one [give them an MBA!]:

A Colgate Palmolive TV advert for Colgate Sensitive showed a woman talking about her sensitive teeth and explaining that her dentist had suggested she try a sensitive toothpaste. At the same time a Colgate Sensitive toothpaste tube was shown. The woman said she had switched to Colgate Sensitive.

But darn it:

The ASA judged that the advert, made by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Young & Rubicam, breached the spirit of rules, even though the advert did not depict a dentist nor show a recommendation for a specific product.

"Spirit of the rules"?! What's that when a lawyer's in the room? Not fair.

But wait! (Or continue to if you didn't stop waiting). They said "the advert did not yaka yada yaba". How about...

Case study 1b: ...getting a dentist to recommend the general idea of the new product, cutting in a screenshot of the actual product, and then showing a happy (preferably attractive and female) citizen who claims to be using the product in the screenshot? Except "then" in this case meaning "after four other commercials". GlaxoSmithKline thought of that one [two MBAs all round!]:

The two Sensodyne advertisements were screened in a single break. The first showed a dentist who stated that sensitive teeth were common problem and that patients could treat the problem by changing their toothpaste. The advert ended with a GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare logo. Four commercials later, a second commercial appeared showing a woman talking about her sensitive teeth. The woman visited her dentist and then changed her toothpaste to Sensodyne.

Were the ASA happy now? Of course not...

The ASA judged that the use of a dentist to recommend generic toothpastes for sensitive teeth breached the rules preventing a dentist in an advertisement from giving professional advice and recommending a treatment. It also judged that the combined impression left by the two adverts was a further breach.
GlaxoSmithKline argued that there was no evidence that viewers would link the messages in the two advertisements.
No buts:
The ASA concluded "almost certainly" many viewers would have seen both adverts and "were likely to link the dentist's advice about sensitive toothpaste closely with the promotion of Sensodyne".
Oh well. You almost did it. But wait! The point is that you managed to get your advertisements out there anyway, and even now people are galloping like zombies to upgrade to toothpastes for their sensitive, tender, loving, modern teeth. Good work soldier. [This service was brought to you by someone who has too much time on their giant shoulders.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy i can see you.

Right now.

Who am I?

And seeing as you're not an atheist I can't be God


Okay until next time...

1/09/2006 04:58:00 pm  

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