The outdoor industry doesn’t need to be offensive to get noticed

The UK’s outdoor marketing body, the Outdoor Advertising Association, has launched an interesting new campaign this week, telling the public that “Career Women Make Bad Mothers”.   Outdoor UK

This is the copy on one of its ads created to as part of its latest push to promote outdoor as an effective advertising medium.

It’s launched the ads across bus, over 11,000 billboard and poster sites nationwide. Apart from the “Career women make bad mothers” execution, there’s also “1966- It won’t happen this year” in a reference to Britain’s chances of winning the World Cup again this year.

When people see the ads and go onto the website Britainthinks.com, they’re told the site “is an independent space where the opinions of the British public can be publicly expressed”.

Of course the Average Joe on the street have no idea that this is actually a clever ploy by the OAA to prove the strength of outdoor as a direct response medium that can drive people online.

But does the OAA need to belittle the issue of how some women find it challenging juggling a career and motherhood at the same time? And once people find out that the real motivation behind the campaign is to fill up the coffers of outdoor media companies will they not think that this Britianthinks online community is just a tad disingenuous?

Now, you may be thinking about SBS’s campaign to support the premier of US drama Mad Men on Australian TV. Razor and US created a fake cookware brand called Madison Cookware. Consumers were subjected to TV, print and radio ads for the brand which carried lines such as: “The only thing that cooks better … is a woman!”.

But when consumers went onto the company’s website – no doubt to complain about their offensive advertising – they realised that it was simply a tactic to promote Mad Men – a drama about the misogynistic and sexist advertising world of the smooth talking ad men on Madison Avenue during the 1960s.

Okay, that was a good campaign. It stemmed from good strategy with a sound understanding of the brand.

But the OAA picking on career women just to get its ads noticed? As one poster on the media and marketing website Brand Republic put it, maybe it’s actually the controversy and not outdoor media that has driven response.


Since writing this piece the OAA has been forced to pull its ad containing the copy “Career women make bad mothers”, following a backlash from working mothers. Mission accomplished OAA? More like lesson learnt.

Camille Alarcon


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