Should Your Advertising Anger Your Audience?
This billboard advertising a funeral home is angering drivers.
And that’s ok. In fact, it’s pretty incredible. We all know that texting and driving is a recipe for disaster, yet more than half of adult drivers (in Canada, and most likely here in the USA as well) admit to doing it. Rather than create another compelling (yet, apparently, ineffective) PSA that evokes sympathy for those who have died while texting, this campaign goes for a different emotion: anger.
The short, all-caps headline is an attention-getter: TEXT AND DRIVE. What? Who would have the nerve to suggest that to our teen drivers out there? That’s what passersby want to know — so they look to the logo to see who the culprit is. That’s when wave two of the ire rushes in: this is an ad for a funeral home?! That’s an all-time low, right?
On to the next step for many disgruntled drivers: go find the website for Wathan Funeral Home and let the digital disapproval begin. But the WathanFuneral.com homepage has a surprise in store for site visitors: there is no Wathan Funeral Home. Instead, this site welcomes outraged viewers of the billboard with some pretty powerful text:
If you’re here, you’ve probably seen our “Text and Drive” billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that. And you’d be right. It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do. But we’re not a funeral home.
We’re just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving. That’s right. More. And while most people wouldn’t even think about drinking and driving, over half of Ontario drivers admit to reading texts while behind the wheel. That’s more than half of the drivers on the road today risking their lives, their passengers’ lives and the lives of their fellow motorists and pedestrians.
Which should make you even madder than our billboard did.
JK. About something super serious. In order to get people to pay attention and realize that it’s time to put down the phone and grab the wheel. “Drivers engaged in text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash,” cites one of the gruesome statistics revealed when site visitors rollover images of flowers, coffins, and headstones. Hopefully, connecting those statistics with exploration of a (fake) funeral home website will cement the connection in people’s minds.
We all know that good advertising should capitalize on emotion, making the intended consumer feel what we want them to feel about the brand. That desired feeling is rarely anger, though. That’s part of what makes this innovative approach so effective. Anger is one of our most intense emotions, so why not harness it to try and break through where every other PSA has failed? Kudos to the ad agency and outdoor media partner who teamed up to try to motivate change via their Public Service Angertisement.