Category Archives: Ad Campaigns

What’s your jihad?

Back in October, Conservative American blogger, activist and executive director of the American Freedom Defence Initiative, Pamela Geller courted controversy by announcing plans to expand a pro-Israeli, ‘anti-jihad’ advertising campaign from its initial position on three subway platforms to include all of the buses in Manhattan.


In response, the public education campaign MyJihad has brought its campaign (to share the proper meaning of jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims) to the buses of New York as well.

Jihad means “struggling in the way of God”. The way of God being goodness, justice, passion, compassion, etc. It is ‘putting up the good fight’ as it were, against whatever odds or barriers one faces in life.

Jihad is a central tenet of the Islamic creed that has been widely misrepresented due, first and foremost, to the actions of Muslim extremists, with the knock-on effect that Islamophobes use these actions to further convince the public that such actions are the true face of Islam. Finally, a selective media understandably focuses on the sensational.

The campaign’s focus is on reclaiming Islam for the majority of Muslims, especially in relation to the public’s wider perception of what this means.

I enjoyed the campaign for its ability to combat such a negative attack so airily.






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Filed under Ad Campaigns, America, Politics, Religion

Turn Off The Blue Light – a liberal campaign in a conservative country

Since the 2011 elections in Ireland, law reform on the issue of prostitution became an issue with some support from opposition parties who were likely to become (and later did become) the new Government. Since then, the issue has received as much attention as any social issue would at a time when a country’s economic woes are far more of a concern to the majority of the population.

Last year, a campaign called Turn Off the Red Light was run with a view to ending sex trafficking in Ireland by making it illegal. The campaign is run by over thirty civic organisations and has been supported by a group of well-known Irish men including the singer Christy Moore. It focuses heavily on the need to protect women working in the sex industry from potential abuse.

In rebuttal to this, a counter-attack called Turn Off The Blue Light has been launched by sex workers and supporters in favour of liberalising the laws on prostitution (and general sex work) in Ireland. They accuse the TORL campaign of wanting to impose a moral agenda on the subject.

The advertisement images put forward by both sides are thought-provoking.

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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Culture, Current Affairs, Ireland, Women

As advertising campaigns go…

This one, for Dutch underwear brand Hema, does not at first appear to be all that controversial.

It simply promises the wearer that the new Hema push-up bra will augment breast size by two categories, no matter how small the wearer’s breasts are.

And then there are a couple of very conservative pictures of the model…

…whose name is Andrej Pejic, was voted in FHM’s list of World’s 100 Sexiest Women – and is a man.

Didn’t see that one coming did you?


Filed under Ad Campaigns, Clothes, Culture, Europe

Drug awareness ads: the more offensive, the better

Darren Aronofsky is the director who brought us such films as The Wrestler and Black Swan. However, his first big hit was the 2000 film Requiem For A Dream, probably the most famous, dark and shocking anti-drug film of all time. I still advise people who have not seen it, only to watch it on a bright day, preferably in summertime.

Methamphetamine (aka crystal meth) is a drug which increases alertness, concentration, energy, and in high doses, may induce euphoria, enhance self-esteem and increase libido. Meth has high potential for abuse and addiction, activating the psychological reward system by triggering a cascading release of dopamine in the brain. The psychological harm caused by meth abuse is colossal, with a fifth of addicts experiencing psychosis resembling schizophrenia for longer than six months (which is medical speak for permanent). This doesn’t take into account those who experience psychosis for a shorter period of time and indeed all the other mental illnesses experienced by addicts.

It is fitting that Aronofsky was asked to direct four short ads for an American meth awareness campaign. They are dark, much like his films, and all are deeply shocking.

There have been complaints from some parent groups that the adverts are too graphic and inappropriate for young teenagers. This is folly. There is little more graphic or offensive than young people addicted to drugs like methamphetamine. Indeed, addiction to any substance, especially when it concerns the youth, is offensive. This was the view taken by French advertising authorities last year, when dealing with anti-smoking ads which directly related nicotine addiction to the powerlessness of sexual slavery. The case was dismissed and the ad campaign went ahead.

The tag line reads ‘To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco’.

Offensive they may be, but really now – would you want to light up anywhere near a billboard with that picture on it? The more offensive, the more effective, the better.

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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Drugs, Film

This is how much you’re being lied to…

A couple of examples of how misled we are by the magic of airbrushing and photoshop.

I particularly like how Penelope Cruz, if anything, looks more beautiful in the non-photoshopped version. I also much prefer the un-tampered-with image of Madonna. She should have used the original, it would have made more of a statement.



Filed under Ad Campaigns, Celebrities

St Matthew in the City, Auckland

My friend Zeno was telling me this weekend about the New Zealand police recruitment ad campaign, designed by M&C Saatchi. They were pretty cool pieces of work, but I then explored a little further to discover what other work the ad agency had done in that part of the world, which was when I found the legends at St Matthew in the City, Auckland. The progressive Anglican church has hit the headlines several times with its tongue-in-cheek ads. I don’t know about you, but I reckon I would go to church next Sunday if I saw these. Take a look:


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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Laughs, Religion

The man who walked around the world

My friend Zeno just bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky and it reminded me of this ad which I must have watched over a year ago now, but never got around to posting. A fantastic use of Scottish-ness for the purpose of advertising. Includes nearly all the things that make me nostalgic for my second hame.

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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Scotland