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June 6, 2002 8:04 AM   Subscribe

This ad was banned in the UK. Did anyone see it? Sounds cool to me. In a time when advertisers are struggling to capture people's attention and dull advertising reigns supreme, why haven't we gotten over this fear of offending those with 'delicate' sensibilities?
posted by eas98 (53 comments total)

 
I've only seen this advert once, but it was really well done in my opinion. Very good effects, and an original idea. I certainly wasn't offended.
posted by crustygeek at 8:24 AM on June 6, 2002


I thought the ad was rather good, although I was surprised that it found its way onto our TVs in the first place.
posted by Nick Jordan at 8:24 AM on June 6, 2002


Saw it, it's downloadable online but unfortunately I don't have a link. It's an aggressive ad, but I didn't like it, gives the impression they're trying way too hard to impress you
And yes, when the by-then-old man slams into the grave and dies, really it's kinda creepy
I don't remember any amazing PS2 ads, but at least they were plain, not weird like this one
posted by matteo at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2002


Though I wish I could see it (is it online for viewing?), I have to agree with you. It doesn't sound like it makes any specific statements that would offend people, just the general suggestion that we're all destined to die- surprise! Art for centuries, especially Medieval art, did exactly what this M$ ad does- reminds people that they're going to kick the can, so they better start praying/buying Xboxes now. While some (including myself) may not really appreciate receiving memento mori from Microsoft, I would hardly call it offensive. This reminds me of this thread- we don't want to offend anyone anymore, and it's not just an American problem.

Also, the article states that 136 complaints were received. Doesn't sound like a landslide of opposition, does it? If it only takes 136 people to get something pulled from distribution, that is a frightening precedent.
posted by evanizer at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2002


I think you're right, eas98 - the Fairness in Advertising people in the UK(or whatever they're called)are becoming far too touchy. The Microsoft ad is actually considered cute in Portugal, where no such quango/authority exists, to no detriment to anything.

Not to be pretentious, like, but it reminds me of Beckett's famous line, spoken by Pozzo at the end of Waiting For Godot: "''They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.''
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2002


yeah, i saw it a few weeks ago. to say it's offensive is a bit of a stretch. well, more than a bit.
posted by Hackworth at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2002


Its supposedly available at playmore.com, but ill be damned if I'm going to spend the time wandering around their willfully obtuse navigation (its one of the molecules floating around).

In any case, I guess people don't like to be reminded of their mortality. At least british people, and at least not during commercials.
posted by malphigian at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2002


i saw it. slick, but a bit full on for the oinking masses.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2002


Yeah, it's a good ad. Tagline goes something like "Life is short - play more" or maybe it was just "Play more" - I can't remember. Nor do I play console games - life really is too short.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2002


Because in order to sell to the broadest market, it needs to appeal to the largest audience. Bell curve, baby. I embrace anything that I might find offensive. It challenges me to rethink my views and continue to examine how my beliefs grow or stay the same.
posted by pedantic at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2002


Gee, and the Xbox campaign is usually so classy what with the ads featuring kids with broken legs or skateboards rammed up their asses.
posted by Skot at 8:33 AM on June 6, 2002


Lots of TV shows and songs on the radio deal with death. Are people who are terminally ill or grieving having problems with those as well? "Life is short" is pretty cliche. I'm surprised we haven't developed a thicker skin about our own mortality.

If anything, I find the message of "Life is short, so you should stay inside the house and stare slack-jawwed into our brain melting idiot box" quite offensive. But my TV comes with a channel changer.
posted by goto11 at 8:33 AM on June 6, 2002


Nor do I play console games - life really is too short.

Amen.
posted by y2karl at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2002


the ads featuring kids with ... skateboards rammed up their asses.

???
I don't watch enough TV, not even close...
Sorry I lost that.
posted by matteo at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2002


Well, I found it. It's at playmore.com, in Zone 2, the red molecule called "Champagne". Unfortunately, you have to sign up or sign in to view it, and I'll be damned if I'm going to give MS any of my information.
posted by starvingartist at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2002


I am reminded of an advertiser saying:

"If you are offended, you are not their target demographic"

Their argument could be carried over to other forms, "Seeing that Big Mac caused me great hardship because of my weight problem, so I want it and all fast food ads pulled from broadcast.".
posted by mkelley at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2002


scottkramer, I couldn't agree more. Their "life is short" message is at war with their stinkin', life-wasting product. Getting back to ease98's complaint that "dull advertising reigns supreme, I'd have to disagree. Advertising of all kinds today is more interesting that at any time in history. Top-of-the-line mainstream TV advertising especially is more edgy, entertaining and creative than ever. Whether it sells the product or not, that's another story.
posted by Faze at 8:39 AM on June 6, 2002


I thought the ad was creepy and the message - there is no time between birth and death - inappropriate for the product it was selling, but I don't see any reason to ban it. The ad was produced by an agency called Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Says it all really.
posted by Summer at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2002


Yuck, and they insist on full-screening their crappy navigation as well. Web designers that think its ok to try and seize control of my computer can rest assured that I won't waste their money by sucking up any more of their bandwidth.
posted by bshort at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2002


we don't want to offend anyone anymore

Has there ever been a point in history when advertisers sought to offend their audience? Good-ol'-days-ism offends me.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:49 AM on June 6, 2002


"The ad was produced by Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Says it all really."

I get the feeling you're trying to be sarcastic, but to anyone who knows anything about advertising, it certainly DOES say it all. You see, BBH are advertising legends. Some of the greatest ads of all time have come out of there. All you have to do is tell me that BBH have come up with an ad and I'm automatically interested. The fact that they've come up with a groundbreaking commercial that has everyone talking is of no surprise whatsoever. Isn't that the point of advertising? To an ad person, their name does, actually, say it all. And no, I'm not their PR, I was just amused that you tried to be sarcastic about a fairly iconic company without knowing it.
posted by Jubey at 8:55 AM on June 6, 2002


You can download it here.
posted by samsara at 9:02 AM on June 6, 2002


Jubey, The point of advertising is not to be talked about, but to sell product. Only the most ignorant, easily bullied by creative-types client would ever fall for that "controversy sells" baloney. As a client, I don't want my ads "talked about." People don't buy with their mouths.
posted by Faze at 9:03 AM on June 6, 2002


Saw the ad. It blows. The trajectory of life thing doesn't go over. The guy just seems to be suffering from some incredible pain in his groin. Maybe it can be re-tooled as a prostate cancer spot, or something.
posted by Faze at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2002


I thought it was rubbish - maybe that's why they banned it.
posted by Spoon at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2002


Saw the ad. Not particularly offensive, just the usual Soho cokehead crap. Zzzzzzzz. Game Cube more memorable 'cos of catchy ruff D&B tune. Maybe it's me watching too much World Cup & generally avoiding TV ads but haven't MS given up on XB ads?

Life is too short to waste it on another fucking games console?

A better version of the story here [BBCi] which gives a little more background. This details on how the Independent Television Commission (ITC - the UK commercial TV watchdog) approaches complaints. In the USA you have the FCC - details on what is indecent & offensive

As for the evanizer's query regarding the apparently low number of people it takes to get something banned, I think it comes down to how many folks complain generally. 136 is a big enough number if, say, 10 or 20 complaints is the norm.

For a more detailed rundown, the ITC publishes their findings altho' there's nothing on their site yet...
posted by i_cola at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2002


Yeah, I don't think it deserved to be banned, but it's not a particularly good ad either. I absolutely understand how a mother who has just lost a baby in childbirth could be offended. And Faze makes a good point, it does seem that the ad is more about a pain in the testes than a travel through life...as most of us don't go through life naked and screaming.

(Unless we were very, very good in our last lives.) :)
posted by dejah420 at 9:26 AM on June 6, 2002


I was just amused that you tried to be sarcastic about a fairly iconic company without knowing it

I'm amused you think I should care about advertising agencies.
posted by Summer at 9:48 AM on June 6, 2002


Being at war with advertising (and working in a related field) I want to hate every ad that comes along. This one, though, was hilarious. One of those ads where you actually ask people "Have you seen it?" As for the perceived testicular agony of the lead, I think that was so that they could avoid the nasty business of showing the development of the sexual organs through life. Thankfully.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 9:50 AM on June 6, 2002


Has there ever been a point in history when advertisers sought to offend their audience

Maybe it's because the DVD just came out, but the thread made me think of this


David: Did, did we offend you?
Bob: Good!
David: Now we have your attention and we have to win you over.

posted by yerfatma at 10:05 AM on June 6, 2002


I think it's safe to say that any woman who's just "had lost a child during childbirth" would find anything about childbirth and death "to be an upsetting reminder of her own experience." Does this mean all advertising has to avoid linking birth with death to avoid hurting this luckly small group of women?
posted by aacheson at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2002


Maybe we can start a mefi campaign and arbitrarily ban some commercials. Anybody up for a little flexing of online community muscle?
posted by srboisvert at 10:38 AM on June 6, 2002


Nor do I play console games - life really is too short.

Plenty of time to hang out on MeFi tho, gramps...;)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:00 AM on June 6, 2002


How about the one for toilet paper where the two old guys go around talking about the importance of softness, and the one guy (Jaymes) is all, "who cares about softness," and the other one (Bartles) is like, "you wanna SIT, don't ya?" and the first guy gives that 'he's got a point' sort of expression? That was both dull AND offensive.
posted by greensweater at 11:03 AM on June 6, 2002


To watch the xbox ad or lots of other "noteworthy" ads/music videos, 'Boards Magazines screening room is a decent replacement for the soon-to-be-revived AdCritic.
posted by krunk at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2002


Great ad. A little spooky they would ban it. But I gotta concur; If i wasn't going to buy the Xbox before I saw it, I'm no closer after having seen it. But I was entertained, which is more than I can say for most adverts.

Another ad that's making rounds is the BT advert with the chameleon novelty phone that has the ring tone playing "Karma Chameleon." Apparently BT was overwhelmed with queries about how to acquire a chameleon phone (it was a one-off for the ad shoot), so now they are looking into manufacturing one itself and cashing in on the craze.
posted by brookish at 11:18 AM on June 6, 2002


The ad is only interesting because it flirts with potentially offensive frankness about a rather uninteresting cliche. Watching the commercial is a waste of my precious life, too y'know. I've got important crap that I could be doing right now, damn it. Really important. And life-affirming!

I think the real question is whether eas98 works for Bartle Bogle Hegarty, or for Microsoft.
posted by sj at 11:37 AM on June 6, 2002


Jeeze... Talk about paranoia.. I don't even own an x-box. And, I don't live in the UK either! :)
posted by eas98 at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2002


I'm only joking, eas98. I am actually Nigel Bogle.
posted by sj at 11:47 AM on June 6, 2002


Nigel Bogle

Wow, say that 10 times fast.

This commercial sucked. And the man-child was sexless.
posted by schlaager at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2002


For a more detailed rundown, the ITC publishes their findings altho' there's nothing on their site yet...

The X-Box ad complaint is dealt with in the following Word document on the ITC site:

Television Advertising Complaints - March/April/May 2002

It's about halfway through the document.
posted by Owen Boswarva at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2002


After viewing the ad, it is kinda icky, creepy and agressive. No reason to 'ban' it, but it's not really a work of aesthetic or advertising genius either.
posted by evanizer at 1:32 PM on June 6, 2002


I don't remember any amazing PS2 ads, but at least they were plain, not weird like this one

Sorry, this stood out like a sore thumb for me. Not weird? The whole "Third Place" thing with ads not even remotely connected to games - chap chucking chum into the ocean and then grinning a lunatic grin before jumping in, or the David Lynch effort with... well... weird stuff going on.
posted by MUD at 4:53 PM on June 6, 2002


Anyone else thinks the guy looks kind of like Steve Ballmer near the end?
posted by endquote at 5:30 PM on June 6, 2002


krunk:...soon-to-be-revived AdCritic.
yay! didn't know this.
posted by juv3nal at 5:34 PM on June 6, 2002


I didn't know adcritic was being brought back until I linked to it... that's almost front-page worthy! One of the biggest productivity-killing sites out there.
posted by krunk at 7:31 PM on June 6, 2002


'quango' is a very cool word.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:35 PM on June 6, 2002


Surely just a marketing ploy? Grab some attention for your flagging console?

The ad has been on for two months...

More discussion here.
posted by mook at 12:58 AM on June 7, 2002


I personally prefer their Mosquito ad. If you haven't seen it...

All in all, playmore's marketing department should consider switching to crack-lite.
posted by samsara at 8:31 AM on June 7, 2002


Has anyone posted the link to the commercial on boardsmag? If not...
posted by pigasus at 9:51 AM on June 7, 2002


Oh, there it is...
posted by pigasus at 9:52 AM on June 7, 2002


why haven't we gotten over this fear of offending those with 'delicate' sensibilities?

I'm guessing that everyone here in the UK has seen the latest Carling Black Label ad? The 'Wild Thing' one? Basically, the closest thing you can get on telly to say that a devotion to lager makes you good at cunnilingus. No, really.
posted by riviera at 4:36 PM on June 7, 2002


AdCritic is coming back, but not as a free site. Read about it here.
posted by LinusMines at 7:38 PM on June 7, 2002


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