2013-02-27

廣告街坊:Don't come here, it rains all the time

Perhaps the news that the UK government 'reportedly considering a negative ad campaign' to deter immigrants from moving to the UK is a bit dated (from Jan 2013), but the thought of 'negative ad' lingers on my mind.  For most of ads we encounter in our everyday life, they try very hard to project positive images of the products they sell.  Or when any message is negative, it might be hinting or implying a competitor rather than oneself.

Thus it's quite intriguing to note that the UK government 'considered' using negative ads campaign to deter immigration, a highly political issue in a specific era in history (when the economy is in recession and many natives are unemployed; a stand which might change drastically when the economic situation of the country changes for the better.)  We don't know if the idea of 'negative ads'  itself will be materialised, and even if it does, if the negative ads are going to work as intended - to deter immigration or inadvertently impact the tourism industry.  With so much uncertainty,  it is nevertheless, quite interesting to look at some of the posters put up by the readers of Guardians to dissuade others from moving to their country.


The intended audience of these 'negative ads' are the potential immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania whom from 2014 onwards could move freely within the 25 states of the EU.  But as all ads which appear on mass media, it will also be seen by people who are not the intended audience, especially given how easy it is these days to transmit images across the cyberspace.  Once the ads are out there in the mass media, how they are read and interpreted are out of the control of ads creators.  It might mutate, change or even take on a life of its own to deliver the exact opposite messages the ads creators intended to convey in the first place.  This gap between the message intended and message received is worth exploring as it is within this gap we see the uncontrollable and unpredictable power of interpretation on the part of the audience and a celebration of our resistance to the seemingly powerful omni-present ads. 

For example, in this case, a Romanian newspaper retorted with a series of ads to invite the Brits to move east - 


Photo Source: http://storify.com/cbccommunity/brits-invited-to-come-over-after-self-deprecating

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