}

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trumping power


The video above is an ad for Powershop, a New Zealand electricity retailer. It mocks Donald Drumpf by having children wearing orange wigs recite his words verbatim. The company has a history of running sometimes edgy ads, and this one is in line with previous advertising. This video seems headed to becoming viral, as more news outlets report in it. It’s unlikely to be the last ad of its kind.

While the ad mocks Drumpf to sell a product, in some ways it also points out how truly awful he is. Hearing children saying things Drumpf has actually said makes those remarks all more disgusting. I was uncomfortable watching children saying Drumpf’s words, like their innocence was being destroyed by doing so. Maybe that’s a good thing: It reinforces how truly awful he is.

The tagline “Power You Can Love” is the latest in a series of slogans playing on a “good power” versus “bad power” theme. They previously used “Same Power, Different Attitude” to promote the same general theme. The image at the bottom of this post, which the company shared on their Facebook Page, continues the mocking of Drumpf by adapting his slogan into “Make Power Great Again”.

Powershop’s ads have frequently gotten them into trouble. For example, last year an ad series playing off of historic events in New Zealand led to one of their display ads being banned by malls in Christchurch. The company also faced complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about a billboard that depicted ex-pope Ratzinger seeming to bless the marriage of two men (at right, click to enlarge).

The billboard was first complained about in 2012, and then again later by someone else, and then again when it was used in 2013. In every case, the complaint wasn’t upheld. Advertising is generally given a lot of room to mock, even religion, and complaints about ads like this aren’t usually upheld. Maybe it’s just me, but complaints like these do make some religious people seem rather precious, far too sensitive, and humourless. But, that’s not a surprise: A person who is none of those things wouldn’t file an official complaint.

Powershop is owned by Meridian Energy, a company that was entirely owned by taxpayers until John Key and National sold nearly half of it of it. The parent company used to run clever advertising, but nothing edgy.

I don’t think this ad is particularly effective, but, then, I’d say the same about all their previous advertising, too. It’s not the content of this ad—I don’t mind the mockery—it’s just that I don’t think it provides a good reason to use the company rather than another; clever advertising isn’t what a customer is actually wanting to buy.

However, the theme of this ad really is the point, and it’s why the media is reporting on it and I’m blogging about it. There have been a smattering of ads mocking Drumpf already, and I’m sure we’ll see many more. We’ll soon see whether that helps or hurts efforts to defeat him.


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