Saturday, February 23, 2013

Travel campaign offers a brutal take on mob mentality — but is it for real?

The submission on Ads of The World says "JWT, Gurgaon, India" but I have to give the J. Walter Thompson Company the benefit of my skepticism. The campaign is courting controversy in such a ham-fisted and immature way.

Above, the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot (mistakenly labelled "Football Riot") stands in for what Charles Mackay coined as "the madness of crowds". As an ad concept, it's tenuous at best, contrasting the idea of "individual travel plans" against mob mentality.

But the creative team of Bobby Pawar, Priti Kapur, Sayantan Choudhury, Sumeer Mathur
and Sumonto Ghosh didn't stop there.

They decided to go after American anti-abortionists:

Dog fights:

Toddlers in Tiaras:

Gun obsession:

And racism:

Pretty ballsy social commentary, but what does it have to do with selling travel? All I get out of it is that Indian tourists should avoid North America at all costs. (Interestingly, Chariot India "journeys of discovery to India, Nepal and Bhutan, in South Asia," so maybe that was the idea all along.)

To me, this is another example of belief in the stupid old adage that there's "no such thing as bad publicity".  There is... for brands. It's the creative teams and agencies that really benefit from these "edgy" campaigns, as the ad community congratulates them for convincing someone else to pay for another self-serving attempt at notoriety.

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