Last weekend, mentally exhausted after a weeks hard grind, I decided to escape life, veg. out and watch television with a vengeance. After a weekend of remote control power usage, I now know why some people believe that television commercials are more talked about than the programmes. By coincidence or divine intervention, I found myself watching a show called ‘Law and Order SVU’, which I quite enjoyed. After all, the script was full of tragedy and disasters that weren’t happening to me and so I empathised and was uncomfortably entertained by someone elses story – but then I had to remind myself, it was a story – that is until I noticed the chilling subscript at the end of the titles. ‘Based on a true story’ Oops! Not a good sign.
Ironically, the story revolved around the complete disregard for, of all things ‘a restraining order’. I say ironic because during the break I saw an Australian produced commercial for Jim Beam called ‘The Stalker’. A delicious looking young creature was telling her story of a two year old break up with her boyfriend whom she was now ‘stalking’. During her smart lipped, recourse she shrugs her shoulders and says, ” You see the thing about restraining orders is, they’re just a piece of paper”. She goes on to say that she sees him but he, the boyfriend, doesn’t see her – she wears a disguise.
At the risk of being considered a Presbyterian, I need to express my concern on behalf of all sober members of our profession. This commercial may win awards for creativity, for clever conceptualisation but what do we in our profession have to give up in terms of social responsibility to deliver a message? What do we sacrifice in terms of citizenship? We know that advertising is impressionable – that’s why we do it, and if we are convinced of that, as we should be, we know its influential. Under such a scenario, sowing the seed that a legal document has no value and applauding its disrespect and consequential breach, is down right irresponsible, if not criminal.
Sure Jim Beam, we’ll get the target market smirking at the message, we may even make a few extra sales, and while we’re at it, let’s have a bloody good laugh at the mothers who live in fear, the kids who become the victims, the rape centres and the beaten and bloodied women who are the consequences of that ‘useless’ piece of paper. Mr. Beam, it’s hilarious and we’ll all drink a toast to your stupidity. Here’s to you Jim Beam, the agency who delivered up this crud, and the egg of a marketing manager who approved it. Get a life and realise that your communication is not just about satisfying your shareholders. You have a responsibility and it goes beyond sensible consumption of alcohol. You’re a corporate citizen and if you’re fair dinkum about being a responsible member of society you’ll rip that dumb commercial of the air and donate a packet to ‘Women’s Shelters’ and the like, where those who are sorely damaged by your flippancy spend their broken lives. And until you do, perhaps we should all drink something less dangerous. ‘The Blogger’.