In a previous post I discussed a recent marketing trend towards advertising corporate responsibility and emphasizing corporate commitments to various stakeholders. I questioned whether the new wave of advertisements referenced a real shift in corporate behavior and a new responsiveness to public concerns or whether it was simply the most effective way to sell products and services in the wake of the economic debacle.
As I just highlighted over at the Faculty Lounge, Staurt Elliot provides part of the answer in an interesting New York Times article on a “a spate of angry advertising campaigns that seek to channel the outrage, frustration and fear felt by consumers hit hard by what some are calling the Great Recession.”
According to Elliot,
The campaigns take an outspoken, provocative tone that is unusual for mainstream marketing messages, which typically try to avoid aggrieved attitudes for fear of alienating audiences. The change reflects the significant shift in sentiment as the public reacts to the wrenching and, at times, frightening financial events of the last year.
In a Post Shredded Wheat ad, for example, an actor wonders “Has progress taken us to a better place?” before concluding, “I’d say it’s taken us for a ride. (Probably in a carbon-coughing oil guzzler.)” Similarly, a Harley-Davidson campaign bemoans “the stink of greed and billion-dollar bankruptcies.” JetBlue focuses on “the discomfort of chief executives forced off corporate jets by greeting them with a sardonic ‘Welcome aboard.’”
The article suggests that the advertisements are having a noticeable effect, increasing sales for the implicated companies, although there is little evidence provided that the ads reflect substantive changes within the businesses. As Fiona Morrisson, director of advertising and brand at JetBlue, explains, “We weren’t looking for Versailles.”