What’s that smell? It might be your campaign

From the Zazoo blog:

Chris Abrahams, a US & European-based social media and conversation marketing expert who I interviewed earlier this year for a HotHouse podcast, has written a cleverly-titled article in Ad Age this week: “Global Web Means Your ‘Fart Jokes’ Can Be Heard Out of Context“. (I know my wife won’t believe me, but honestly, I am not writing about this just because it allows me to use the word ‘fart’ in a blog post!)

Anyway, Chris cites the example of Grey Advertising Germany’s recent campaign for the Doc Morris pharmacy chain, which advertised condoms by implying that if Hitler, Bin Laden and Mao’s parents had used Doc Morris condoms, the world would be a better place today. (View the ads here). Even though the ads aren’t online ads per se, reaction to them as insensitive, racist, etc. etc. has spread quickly via social media.

Chris points out that “That’s the way it is with humor – sometimes you nail it, sometimes you bomb. Humor is powerful in both directions. A simple allegory for old-media folks who still don’t get it: Standing up and telling a fart joke while drinking with friends in your rec room = low risk. Standing up and telling a fart joke while drinking with friends at someone’s wedding party = high risk.

“With internet advertising and PR, you are always at someone’s wedding party; you are never safely behind closed doors.”

He advises advertisers, marketers and PR flacks to remember “On the internet, you are always talking to the whole world, whether you intend to or not; be cognizant of who your message will offend and decide deliberately if you are willing to offend them; and if you must offend, have your mea culpa machine ready to go before you pull the trigger.”