Rate the Ad: Ariel: Torture

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Last week, we turned to new Starbucks posters that focus on the coffee brand's quality over the price point appeal of its competitors McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts. The outdoor campaign from BBDO carries the banner "It's not just coffee, it's Starbucks" on a burlap-sack patterned background. We wanted to know what you thought of the creative, as well as Starbuck's premium tactics in the middle of a recession. And most Adsters took the opportunity to bash the already crippled brand.

Commenter "rconlon6" says, "These posters are rather dull but, more tellingly, very desperate. They certainly wouldn't convince non-customers to try Starbucks and, for current Starbucks customers who are or were considering going to the other, cheaper brands, they only reinforce that Starbucks is more expensive and has no intention of changing that. Just another indication that this is a brand that has lost its way."

Championing the only defense of the campaign, commenter "armtrong987" says, "Well, I don't think legitimate coffee snobs are the Starbucks target these days. Realistically, I'd guess that their core customer is an average coffee drinker, with disposable income that allows them to attach themselves to this type of brand. My guess is that the brief was more about keeping their core customer dishing out for lattes, despite the economic pressure to spend thriftily, not about selling more coffee. It's about not selling less coffee and keeping pricing at status quo. In that vein, I think these simplistic copy (not heavy) ads do their job. No breakthrough creative here, but a nod to their fair, ethical practices (what says natural coffee better than burlap?) And, there's just enough of an elitist personality to keep the spend-wary feeling like they're still doing better than most if they're still buying their Starbucks."

This week, we take a look at a print campaign from Saatchi, Mumbai for Ariel clothes detergent. The ads portray pieces of clothing in tortured poses—slacks getting scalded ankles up in a vat of hot water, a huddled mass of work clothes getting beaten with a stick and a stained shirt getting waterboarded in a bucket—above the tagline "Stop Being Cruel to your Clothes." We want to know, after horrifying images of real-life human prisoners in these poses and countless news articles about human rights, is it okay to draw torture parallels to inanimate garments? Is anyone offended? Or, is this a smart way to connect household activities to timely topics? Share your thoughts, below.

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