Be adventurous be bold and don’t substitute a mop for a child

When writing advertisements, one needs always to be adventurous and cautious.  Both at the same time.

Adventurous because you need to ensure that your advertisement stands out from the advertisements of the competition.  Cautious, because you don’t want to cause offence.

As a result all you need to ask is, “can anyone take offence at this?” and if the answer is yes, then ask, “What are we going to do about it if they do?”

So when I wrote the advert with the headline, “Nw y knw wht ts lk t b dyslxc” above a promotion for materials that helped teachers work with dyslexic students, I did ask myself these questions.

I suspected that someone might claim that the advert was offensive to teachers of dyslexic students, and I prepared myself.  I would truthfully reply that I am dyslexic and that my headline sentence was indeed how written English appeared to me – before I was given support by teachers who knew what dyslexia was like.  And it worked.

But an advertising campaign intended to recruit foster carers by encouraging people to “swap a mop” for a child in care has fared less well.

The private fostering agency that ran the film showed a couple who were looking after a mop as if it were a child, feeding the mop dressed up as a child, teaching it to ride a bike and eventually celebrating its graduation.  There were complaints.

My view is not that their advert was wrong, but rather that the agency in question seemingly did not say, “if anyone makes a fuss, how can we get more (and this time free) publicity with our reply?”

For the problem is, if one never takes any risks in advertising, the advertisements become bland and so don’t work. Most advertising, especially to schools, is fairly middle-of-the-road and works in a middle-of-the-road kind of way.  Which is why the unusual stands out and gets more sales.

If you’d like to talk about how your advertisements can be made just that little bit more unusual, without running the risk of giving offence, do talk to Schools.co.uk.  Call 01604 880 927. Or if you prefer, email Stephen@schools.co.uk

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