There’s an interesting item at Autoblog which relates to an advertising campaign for Land Rover. Autoblog believes the strategy to present the vehicle as a hero by filming in actual disaster areas comes over as exploitative, despite the agency saying vehicles had been offered to emergency personnel or donations made to relief organisations.
From a PR perspective, what is interesting is how Autoblog writes:
To be fair, this article was written with the marketing industry in mind as an audience, not us. The agency, which is just doing its job, comes off as insensitive and exploitative to our ears, but a professional in the biz might think this idea is genius. And while it’s a good thing that Land Rover may donate money or the use of its vehicles to aid disaster relief efforts as a result of this marketing campaign, that bad taste in our mouth comes from the fact that it likely wouldn’t do those things if a camera weren’t there to capture it.
The internet enables anyone to read anything (pretty much), so you cannot boast to one audience about something that can be taken negatively by another.
Autoblog’s quote also highlights a belief that “successful” adverts are judged by industry insiders for their “creativity” rather than their impact on sales, or more importantly, organisational reputation.
Here, it seems the advertising agency did see how how others might interpret their work, but thought that “add-on” social responsibility was the answer.