Sometimes, Lighter is Better

Sometimes four eyes are better than two; and six are even better.  This is how we feel when clearing ads for our clients, hopefully before they are presented to their clients, the advertisers.

There are really two things we want to apply accurately: The law and common sense.  Just because an ad is legal does not mean it should be published.  The idea that numerous people should review the ad is to address the sensitivities (or lack thereof) that some people may have, in which case a horribly embarrassing, and financially damaging ad, may be published.

Take the latest example, an ad for Heineken Light beer.  In it, a bartender slides a bottle of Heineken Light towards a woman. The bottle passes several people of color before reaching a paler­ skinned woman.  The tagline: SOMETIMES, LIGHTER IS BETTER.

OMG.  I totally get that a creative in some fancy ad agency thought this was a grand idea, but I can’t even begin to comprehend how the account executive, the account manager, the client’s brand manager, the agency’s lawyer, and the client’s lawyer said, “this is a really great idea.”  The ad was pulled. Heineken’s reputation was damaged, the agency’s credibility with the client shattered, the brand manager’s reputation damaged and the cost of production possibly eaten by the agency, despite a likely sign off by the client.

Over the years, experienced advertising counsel should develop a seventh sense for what’s right and wrong – I don’t mean legal and illegal.  If that’s all counsel can add, counsel is just a dead weight.  Test your ads for how they will be perceived by all of the groups that will see them.  If they are offensive, think long and hard about running them, unless that is the point.  Use your common sense.  Being blindsided is a very bad thing.

If you need help with branding or advertising, Goodell DeVries can help. Contact Jim Astrachan at 410-783-3550 (