By Khadija Gulamhusein
Bernie Ecclestone, the 80 year old F1 boss who was violently beaten up in a mugging for his possessions, has become the new face of an advert for a Swiss watch company, Hublot. The tagline of the new advert reads: “See what people will do for a Hublot.”
My first reaction to this initial piece of information was: “Poor guy; his plight is being exploited by the unfeeling, profit driven, money-minded corporation.” But as I read on, I learnt that the advert was actually Ecclestone’s idea.
Now I’m all for giving people the freedom to do what they want in life, but this struck me as particularly distasteful, if not bordering on wrong. Ecclestone’s motivation for the advert was to stand up to his attackers and to show courage in the face of their crime. It may be a distasteful way of showing courage but his actions are understandable all the same. What isn’t understandable is the Swiss company’s agreement to his proposal. While the CEO of the company is arguing that the advert is a “protestation against violence that we are all afraid of today,” only the naive would assume that this is the company’s main motivation behind the advert. It is an advert after all.
The BBC article I read got me thinking. In the advert, Ecclestone looks pretty badly beaten up. If I was walking through a tube station or down the street, and saw his face displayed on a billboard, I’d probably have looked twice. Isn’t that the whole point of good advertising? To grab the attention of passer-by’s, long enough to feed them just enough information about the company or product being advertised?
But what does this say about the state of mind of consumers? Have we been bombarded with so much advertising, that the mediocre and the normal no longer appeal to us, even if they invoke the same message? Are we only attracted by the shocking, the distasteful, and the abnormal? I see it as similar to the Lady Gaga phenomenon. While she may be musically talented, part of the public’s fascination with her and her rise to fame stems from her complete defiance of everything normal.
Let us know what you think about the state of advertising in this day and age. Have we become desensitised to everything normal and only respond to the abnormal and shocking?