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  • Sam Schofield

Banned adverts are a planned publicity strategy

Getting a TV advertisement banned is a sure fire way to generate publicity - in some cases, creating greater brand and product awareness than the original advert would have achieved.

The latest to benefit from inclusion on the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) naughty list (sorry... bad Christmas joke) is Deliveroo. The food delivery service had their ad pulled after more than 300 complaints from, presumably, disappointed customers who soon realised they couldn't order KFC and Dominoes as part of the same delivery. Deliveroo's advert had, apparently, given the impression this was possible.

The ad showed a woman taking a delivery from a Deliveroo driver at her front door and then distributing meals from various restaurants around the house from a single bag. At the end, she dives head first into the bag to retrieve the remaining items, like a fast-food Mary Poppins.

Whether getting the ad banned was the company's original intention or not, it has garnered news stories on every major outlet in the UK (here's the BBC's story).

Getting ads banned has been a publicity strategy for years, of course. A prominent example from last year was Iceland's Christmas orangutan TV ad. The aim: cause a scandal to generate public interest, sparking an online petition and, subsequently, kick starting a viral story. The benefit: cutting advertising spend by hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds while getting the ad seen millions of times despite never airing on television.

Iceland's strategy was a stroke of genius, as most people would sympathise with the plight of the orangutan, casting the ASA as the bad guys and the retailer as a champion of helpless creatures. Deliveroo's ad and subsequent ban doesn't quite carry the same emotional kick but it does a very good job of raising awareness of the various food outlets they ferry for in their distinct square rucksacks.

Causing controversy can be an effective publicity strategy but, as discussed in our last blog, the phrase "there is no such thing as bad PR" is absolute rubbish and there is such a thing as going too far.



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