Advertising can be a tricky game in this day and age, especially when it comes to conveying a certain message in the right way. And though most of the time, we do seem to get it right.
Recently, a certain ad campaign has been making its way across the Internet and let’s just say, it speaks for itself.
The Indian mattress brand ‘Kurl-on’ just came out with a new poster campaign ‘Bounce back’ with its subject being Malala and her journey in the past couple of years.
Everything from being shot in the head by the Taliban to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the ad quite ridiculously recreated all the events that occurred in her life in a single image, using toys.
The ad is absolutely problematic for a number of reasons.
First off, whether or not it was the brand’s intention, the ad blatantly downplays all the events in Malala’s life, by depicting them in a very light-hearted and foolish way. Not only is the ad disrespectful to Malala, but also disrespectful to the significance of her journey.
Are we just going to sit around and pretend as if it’s okay that our ad agencies and brands continue to use social movements, humanitarians, and catastrophic events to sell a single product? And in this case, USE that product in saying that it facilitated their own personal success?
Depicting all her hardships in a single act of ‘bouncing back,’ is simply unacceptable.
@vishaldwivedi9 humour in creativity is a tricky thing..see what happened to ogilvy's malala kurl on ad…
— vin.bot1.0 (@oldfox004) May 22, 2014
the ad would have worked if it portrayed Kurl On mattresses as a place where Malala rests everyday before she takes on the world.@ogilvy
— Babar Khan Javed (@Babarkj) May 17, 2014
— PRmoment India (@PRmomentIndia) May 16, 2014
The brand immediately received a ton (a TON) of hate. To which led to the ad eventually being taken down and retracted by the brand. Apart from that, Ogilvy & Mather, the agency representing the mattress brand apologized for the situation in India and stated,
“The recent Kurl-On ads from our India office are contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Ogilvy & Mather and our clients,” said Greg Carton, spokesperson for the agency, in an email statement.
“We deeply regret this incident and want to personally apologize to Malala Yousafzai and her family. We are investigating how our standards were compromised in this case and will take whatever corrective action is necessary.”
And okay, just to play devil’s advocate here, the ad seemed to be quite clever in THEORY. The brand even came out with two other versions with the same tagline, depicting the lives of Gandhi and Steve Jobs, two other extremely powerful and impactful personalities of the world.
However, the execution in the case of the ad featuring Malala was definitely not it’s best, not even close. It was a sensitive topic, handled in the worst way possible.
Regardless of the way some Pakistanis may personally feel towards Malala, it cannot be denied that this ad was an absolutely awful attempt at using the name, story, and power of Malala to sell a single mattress.
I mean, come ON people, we can do better than that.