A marketing campaign raising ethical questions? Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Marketing has a long history of pushing the limits of our comfort zones, and that’s great in many cases. It’s good to shake up assumptions and make us reevaluate limitations or boundaries we may have long accepted. Apple did this repeatedly, starting with their iconic 1984 ad, and then afterward with such gems as Think Different and most recently their iPad2 ads. Many others have done it as well, often in support of some very good causes.
But do ad campaigns cross a line when they use our patriotic passions to encourage us to buy their brand? It’s an old marketing concept, and we’ve seen it in everything from selling cars in the United States to beer in Canada and even Vegemite in Australia. However, a campaign from Romania in 2011 had something different about it. Consumers were “tricked” into thinking that the company would from now on replace the Romanian flag on the bar’s wrapper with an American flag. When the new packaging suddenly appeared, people started to protest, not knowing that their protests were exactly what the campaign was designed to arouse. People were soon demanding the original bar’s wrapping back, not knowing that this was exactly what they were “supposed” to do, as this video shows: [Read more...]