Controversy isn’t something that most advertisers like to deal with when it comes to creative messaging. However, it is something that can come up, and advertisers and vendors alike must handle it quickly.
Recently, some billboard creative has caused offense in neighboring communities. According to MediaPost, some of the outdoor vendors have chosen to remove the creative that has incited the uproar. One example is from Texas where there was an ad for “reparative therapy.” This is largely known as “ex-gay” therapy. It was removed soon after initial posting.
Anecdotally, we had a client that once had a campaign that was very tongue-in-cheek to advertise new small plates on the menu. While the creative translated well on outdoor, print, and online campaigns overall, the positioning of one billboard near a church did not. After complaints, the outdoor company approached the client and us. To alleviate the tension, we moved the creative to another board. While the creative was not meant to offend anyone or any affiliation, it did. This situation was handled relatively easily because the campaign did not suffer because of the board location shift, and the gesture from the outdoor company and advertiser ended the matter on good terms.
Overall, advertisers have to remember that pushing the boundaries for creative can have a big impact. It can be good, but it can also cause problems. It’s up to advertisers to handle each situation accordingly.