P> Geoffrey Roche, founder of Lowe Roche, advises creatives to
ask themselves if the idea is right for the client.
"If you don't put yourself in his shoes, and just do what is in
your best interest, then you are doing something wrong," Mr. Roche
said. "Is this worth selling 200 extra headphones for?"
Mike O' Sullivan, creative partner at Droga5 NZ, defended the
Turtle Beach work, saying that bold is in the eye of the target
"Gaming is not like selling butter," Mr. O' Sullivan said.
But polarizing the audience is also a consideration, said Mr.
Royer. While it's important to speak to consumers, he said, you
have to think about a project's wider impact.
"Don't you want to be doing interesting, trendsetting work
beyond just the campaign?" he asked.
Ben Ward, the client lead at Fiveight, said that , in
retrospect, he would have released all the episodes at once so that
people could "judge the project in its entirety."
Ian Grais, Rethink Vancouver's creative director, said that when
the idea to use subway mirrors was brought up in meetings, people
pointed out that it was cruel -- similar to setting up mirrors to
suggest people need to lose weight.
"But we decided it was neutral," said Mr. Grais. "You chose to
decide what they meant."
Mr. O' Sullivan's "gamers are different" reasoning seems to have
worked for Deutsch, L.A., in a Sony PlayStation campaign that let
users shoot a real M29-SAW at a truck using their keyboards.
"You may not approve, but you can't deny it's cool," said
VP-Communications Jeff Sweat, adding that "the concerns over safety
and a possible backlash were a constant consideration."
It's also wise not to execute a provocative campaign in a bubble
but to involve other departments, such as PR (to prepare for
potential blowback) or sales (to have answers ready when customers
start asking about it).
For example, Mr. Roche said he would walk such campaigns around
the agency, from creative to client services. "If it didn't feel
right to them, we would think twice," he said.
As the infamous Homeless Hotspots illustrates, even well-meaning
efforts can draw fire. Agency BBH Labs was surprised by the
critics, who called the stunt "dehumanizing," among other things.
The campaign was a "social experiment," according to the firm's
blog, and it plans to return to the drawing board for the program's
Creatives should guard against taking the attitude that
"everything is OK because the work is only going to be on YouTube,"
Mr. Roche said. After all, "What if it goes viral?"
"Call it the Goldman Sachs test ," he said. "If this is
something Goldman would do to its clients, don't do it."