The real world of advertising

Apparently an advert for carmaker Kia is causing concern in Canada for portraying women police officers as unprofessional sex-predators.  This appears to be another lazy creative idea showing women behaving in a way that would be unacceptable today for men. 

, VP of ad agency Publicis behind the commercial, claims to be “shocked by all the fuss”.

“We’re just surprised that people took as much interest in the spot as they are,” Ciccia says. “It’s good in that people are talking about Kia and it’s bad in that maybe some people misinterpreted it to think that it’s reality when it isn’t.”

Ciccia says adults would obviously know the people in the ad are actors and that cops don’t really make out with drivers they pull over.

“It’s humour and it’s really advertising, guys,” he said.

So advertising doesn’t need to take any account of real-world issues that might offend or reflect stupid stereotypes?  Just because the market for the Hyundai Spectra 5 is “slightly skewed towards men between the ages of 25 and 49” doesn’t mean they have to be patronised – or that the remaining demographic insulted.  [See  to make up your own mind]

Advertising execs often see controversy as a good way of getting additional attention through media coverage – so yes, this one will have produced cuttings to count.  But this is a bizarre way to integrate PR into marketing communications. 

Involving public relations earlier and more strategically in a campaign would avoid offending a good section of the population (police and their families) and maybe come up with a creative idea that not only generated headlines, but actually on the car rather than the lame advertising agency. 

And, the in-house PR team at the client would not be forced to manage a crisis created by the poor decision-making of their marketing colleagues.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

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