Why risk a TV ad being censored by the advertising watchdog for containing rude words when self-censorship with a ‘bleep’ or two could win you more viewers than ever imagined?
Mimicking how television and radio broadcasters obscure bad language in live news coverage or taped shows is now being used by U.S. marketers in ads and videos.
Often covering up actual controversial words in a script, the result is often humorous but is also making brands look risqué and edgy while raising the question of what can be considered decent or indecent in society today.
Manufacturers adopting the tactic include Philips for their Norelco Bodygroom product. The soundtrack for the personal trimming device ad created by Tribal DDB Worldwide includes bleeps while images of nuts and a hairy peach are flashed on the screen.
Meanwhile in an ad for Bud Light, also created by DDB and entitled ‘Swear Jar’, employees are shown swearing like troopers in bid to save enough in the jar to buy a case of their favourite beer.
According to the brand, the ad has about 12 million viral views so far, with 2.7 million alone on YouTube.
In another commercial, this time for the New York Film Academy, a dodgy word spoken by the filmmaker Brett Ratner (pictured) is bleeped.
Consumers are left feeling that they are being protected from obscenities but the flip side is that the device is being shown to draw the attention of a bored or distracted audiences in a commercial heavy environment.
According to Philips, the Norelco Bodygroom ad has prompted four-million people to visit the brand’s website, shaveeverywhere.com, where the average stay is four to seven minutes.
A number of broadcast networks in the U.S. have recently been fined heavily by the Federal Communications Commission for program content deemed inappropriate.
However, the indecency rules that govern broadcasting do not apply to cable TV, satellite TV, satellite radio or the Internet making these platforms a more popular choice for bleeping ads.
In terms of getting their ‘bleep’ tactics right marketers need to weight up a number of factors.
Is the target audience right? Ads which have used bleeps most effectively are for those aimed at a target market of 20-35 year olds.
Also they need to ensure the ad appears in the right environment. TV may have impact but some brands have found that by posting the ads in the digital space has generated phenomenal viral success.
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