We recently had an advert banned by the publication it was due to appear in.

We’d been briefed to write a hard-hitting advert aimed at an environment industry audience warning of the increasing Japanese Knotweed problem. Japanese Knotweed is the most invasive plant in Britain, it only takes tiny fragments of rhizome the size of a fingernail for a new plant to grow, and once established it can grow at an alarming rate of up to 10cm a day destroying building foundations, drains etc.

The advert needed to be impactful and reflect the client’s no-nonsense approach to dealing with the problem. Our solution was a hand giving a single finger salute, with the line next to the fingernail explaining that it only takes a piece the size of a fingernail for the plant to cause devastation. Coupled with the line, “Bring it on” to get across our client’s no-nonsense approach, the advert is certainly brash and stands out, but we feel is intelligent at the same time. The image might be offensive to some, but the target audience is mainly builders and developers so we felt it was on the money. Unfortunately, the publication it was intended for did not agree, so refused to run it.

As a compromise, we censored our own advert, blurring out the image and putting a stamp over it to say that it had been deemed too offensive, but that you can see the uncensored advert at www.jksl.com/ad. The censorship is perhaps even more impactful than the original advert.

Our job as creatives is to make our clients’ products/services stick in people’s minds and sometimes you have to sail a little close to the wind to do this. It’s important to remember that you can’t please all of the people all of the time and if you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. All you have to do is appeal to your particular audience – if you stick in their minds then your job (and ours) is done.

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