How much should marketers be worried or take any notice of consumer complaints about a communication campaign? Does it matter if the complaints are from the intended target audience or not? How many complaints would you receive about a campaign before taking any action and/or replacing it with some other creative material?. Such questions arise after seeing the terrific new Myplates manproof your car campaign.
Myplates.com.au is the name of the NSW Govt Roads & Maritime Services business that sells personalised number plates. Plate Marketing Pty Ltd was commissioned by the NSW Govt in Oct 2010 to operate the Myplates business.
Manproof your car is a new campaign developed by Plate Marketing which targets women with femininely designed number plates.
Here are the first three TVC’s in the campaign, which according to the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau has attracted 350 complaints from the public. The complaints have centered around the ‘crass nature’ of the ads and the sexist portrayal of men.
What I love about these TVC’s are that they are based on tangible consumer insights and truths.
- Women do get annoyed at men using their car and not treating it the same way that they would treat their own car.
- Men are very self conscious what car they drive, how that car looks and what it may imply about their own masculinity.
- The car industry has traditionally been very masculine and male driven. It is only in recent years with the growth in small vehicle sales that women have been marketed to directly.
Feminised ‘Le Chic’ number plates offer women the opportunity in a small (albeit expensive) way to express more of their own personality and individuality.
Thankfully, sanity has prevailed and the complaints have been dismissed. Those who are offended by this campaign need to just turn off the television and get a sense of humour.
However, it appears that the first two TVC’s which generated the majority of the complaints “Digging for Gold” and “Air Time” have been ditched for the next phase of the campaign.
Publicly at least, Plate Marketing in the above article link have given the impression that the decision on changing the creative material was their decision alone. It is more likely that the client – the NSW Govt got cold feet and asked for these ads to taken off air.
As a result, the following two TVC’s along with the above “Interview” TVC will air in the next phase of the campaign. In an interview with Mumbrella, Daryl Head from Myplates describes them as
“They take on a different flavour. The first two ads were setting up the story and the three news ones are about the success of man proofing. They’re about what happens if you do man proof your car,” he said. “They may not be as confrontational but it will be interesting to see if we get people crying foul about sexism.”
WIthout the complaints controversy, I doubt these last two ads would have gone to air. Yes they may be about what happens if you do man proof your car but they are safe, dull and have much less impact.
Digital Specific Component
There is also some terrific interactive content & tools on the manproof website.
Some cute audio and video tools on the history of manproofing.
A manproof calculator that lets you work out through a series of questions how attracted your man is to your car and offering the appropriate numberplate as a result to deter him.
Being able to send and share an unofficial official warning to your man before you manproof your car.
If after all of the above, none of the Le Chic range numberplates do it for you, the site does still offer an alternative selection of number plates.
Overall, I think these “Le Chic” number plates and the manproof your car campaign will really resonate with the intended female target audience. Price of the plates would appear to be the only barrier to purchase.
by Konrad Markham
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