Saturday, July 23, 2011

Power To The People?

I was very surprised this week by this billboard poster...
The PowerShop ad features one-time Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with a saintly halo-like effect behind his head. I checked their website for an explanation, but there was no clever script to link the "Butcher Of Baghdad" into their service!
What was their advertising team THINKING?? obviously WEREN'T!! To feature this man - who used bullets as his tools of persuasion - makes no sense, and surely would upset many people too. I can only assume they sought a "shock effect"!
If the implication is that switching power suppliers can change your life (as illustrated by the moustached murderer miraculously relishing the role of refugee carer), it's a very nebulous link and in incredibly BAD TASTE, when you recall how many thousands of his countrymen Hussein put to death. Bullet, machete, starvation, torture, gas...if he didn't like you, your entire family was simply obliterated.
To encounter his countenance in contentious commercials makes me muse on the mental state of (a) the ad agency and (b) the media buyer at PowerShop.
Saddam Hussein was hanged in 2006 for crimes against humanity! Was this ad meant to be funny? Yea, like we're all still laughing about the gassed's as hilarious as electrodes on the testicles!
Can PowerShop offer a valid explanation please?
And will they feature Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot in their next ad?


Timespanner said...

Yes, I noticed the ad a few days ago myself, in a bus stop -- and definitely had a WTF moment. But then again, Powershop seem to like to associate their image with "bad boys"... and also controversial revolutionaries. Che Guevara features on their website with a Post-it note stuck to his head inscribed "Service". Too weird.

Are they trying to convey, with the Saddam ad, that once Powershop were a bunch of evil, tyrannical overlords, persecuting minorities, building glorious palaces from off the fiscal backs of the people, invading neighbours at a whim, filling the coffers of international arms dealers to wage war, but now they've seen the light? Or are they just waiting for the hangman's noose?

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...


Ahhh, that's the $64 question, isn't it!!!
Well, a reply's come back from PowerShop - so fast in fact that I'm sure it's a standard automated response. Here it is, in all its cumbersome creation:
"Hi (no name inserted)
Thanks for your feedback on the campaign.
We sincerely apologise for any offence we have caused you. It certainly wasn’t our intention to upset anybody.
The purpose of this campaign is satire. Our intention is to ridicule these evil dictators, and make them look ridiculous by showing them doing things that are clearly the opposite of how they’ve used their power.
It’s a comment on how different the world could be if people like this used their power for good, rather than evil.
We believe some of the best advertising campaigns serve a dual purpose, and we want ours to be thought provoking. In an industry dominated by large powerful electricity companies, Powershop believes people deserve the freedom to make a choice and get a better deal. If you would like to know more about our campaign
[ ].

Thank you for your feedback.
Regards, Jess
The Powershop Crew."
= = = = = = = = = = =
Now, if you visit that hyperlink (above), you'll see quite a few kiwis ever-so-slightly pissed off with PowerShop too!
Maybe they'll learn a lesson from this...hmmm, I wonder how my complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority is progressing...?

SM said...

I agree it is in very bad taste....they say even bad publicity is good as at least it makes you remember the product or service provider certainly does for me, I remember NOT to purchase their products or have anything to do with their services!

Timespanner said...

Cheers for posting their reply. I'd put them in the category of "Too idiotic for my money."

Bitsphere said...

To say the advertising campaign has a social message justified by attracting attention of the public to the dictators is quite lame and stupid. They are in it to get attention to their product and make more money. The fact that the campaign disregarded the feelings of the dictator's victims, whom are mostly voiceless, only highlights their cowardice of not being able to use images of Hitler, or Bin Laden, or other criminals whom their victims have enough voice to silence the campaign if not making the company go out of business.
Now, imagine using images of the devastation left by the recent earthquake in your country with a title, same power, different attitude.
This is a tasteless ad campaign and quite frankly highlights even more the incompetence of using quality material to get attention.