On being a dickhead and going viral…

The Victorian state government has launched a new road safety campaign on the Internet, telling people, "don’t be a dickhead, wear your seatbelt", and "don’t be a dickhead, don’t use your phone". Police minister and MP for Bendigo says it’s "… designed to confront, and this one confronts people that don’t have respect for other people on and off the road.” The campaign is receiving almost overwhelmingly negative response from the general public, from teachers to to politicians because of the language and message it sends. Some are slamming it for racial  offensiveness and say it will encourage bullying, young people are calling it "lame" (Sunrise 30-3-10) and while marketing gurus will say all publicity is good publicity, it’s looking like a fail for the Victorian government. A poll from The Age suggests 77% of viewers don’t think it will help reduce the road toll. View the videos here.

Regardless of how effective, offensive, disrespectful or whatever that the adverts themselves might be, my issue with this is the intention of the marketers that this campaign will "go viral". The very fact that they’ve gone all over national TV trying to push the ads, by campaigning to the "young people" and saying that’s what the ads are intended to do, they’ve clearly demonstrated their lack of knowledge about how social networking and viral marketing really happens. I’m a teacher of young people – trust me, if you tell them that something is AIMED at them, DESIGNED for them, and they are the TARGET AUDIENCE, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that they’ll switch off and ignore whatever it is you’re trying to push at them!

If the advertisers had kept their mouths shut, had not tried to defend themselves and their use of language by justifying it as hitting the target audience’s buttons, they would have had a FAR better chance of the young ‘uns posting and reposting links to the offensive and disrespectful ads. Why? Because it might piss off their parents and teachers! 

This one is, I think, a marketing fail.


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5 responses to “On being a dickhead and going viral…

  1. Anonymous

    About 15 years back there was a radio campaign that ran in Sydney aimed at preventing tailgating. The jingle was performed by Rodney Rude:
    ‘You’re a dick, you’re a dick, you’re a big fat dick / too close to the car in front, you prick / You’re driving too close to the car in front / You’re a dick, you’re a dick, you’re a stupid…fool’.
    I shit you not. It was pulled off the air within a day or so.

    • Anonymous

      There’s two road ads I really remember in the past few years. The first one is the ‘pinky finger’, of course suggesting all men speeding have small dicks (but neatly doesn’t think about teen female speeders!) – which actually drove some people to do the pinky finger while driving, and one guy went into a road rage, got out of his car and bashed the other driver up, not quite the best message ever to send – and the other one, I think from Adelaide, about creeping, where it showed people driving and turning into zombies (or corpses). Zombies are always cool.

    • Anonymous

      To Chuckmck1
      Thanks for reminding me about that. No-one in their right mind would ever be audience to Rodney Rude.
      I mean – how on earth does he represent the rest of us? He doesn’t. He makes us look like the born idiot that he is.
      Wasn’t a new tailgating law passed?

  2. Anonymous

    The ‘gingas’ ones are really, really stupid. I think I’m technically still a young person 😛
    And you are totally right. If we’re are TOLD to market it, of course we’re not going to. That’s just silly talk!
    I wonder if it’s because the marketers out there now didn’t really ‘grow up’ with facebook/twitter/etc, or do they forget that inside every teenager is a rebel without a cause?

  3. Anonymous

    It’s highly insulting, degrading. No wonder Robin Williams thinks he and others like him can get away with abusing Australia and her leaders.
    If such advertising is allowed to go unchecked then we certainly donot need an Advertising Standards Bureau and publishing such abuse can only be allowed to undermind the worth of every child who attends school.

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