In our quest to be the leader in everything, DDB Melbourne’s chief creative officer, Darren Spiller believes Adland is beginning to slide into the depths of the nanny state of advertising
“Hey, where’s the larrikin gone?” asked a bewildered Spiller. “People want that stuff. We like to have a laugh with people.
“Australia’s become so busy trying to become a world leader in so many things in the first world that we kind of started losing our identity because we wanted to be politically correct and appeal to everybody.”
The nanny state of advertising is not a new concept, and one Spiller has spoken to B&T about previously. It stems from marketers’ fears of being ridiculed on social media – of which there are numerous examples – and accidentally offending someone.
“Creativity cannot thrive in a fear-based culture,” stressed Spiller. “Because of our political correctness, nanny state Australia, clients are fearful they will be slammed so there’s a lot of second-guessing in what we do and what we don’t do.”
DDB Melbourne group managing director David Brown chimed in: “I believe Australian brands have become quite commoditised.” Referencing how Aussie companies made it through the recession where it was all about sales, Brown said we’re at a point now where brands need to start differentiating themselves again.
It’s not just Australia though. The whole world is becoming more politically correct, suggested Spiller, and he wondered when the last time was that someone had a proper laugh at someone else’s expense.
“I’m talking light-hearted stuff here,” he quickly added, “I’m not talking about really horrible bullying at all, but it’s important for us to tap into our personality, it’s made us who we are. That’s why we’re able to go onto the World’s Stage.
“So I’ve made sure our work is starting to tap into that.”
Referencing work for DDB Melbourne washing brand client Radiant and its ads last year – which saw clothes being soiled, washed with Radiant and then returned to the store – Spiller explained how getting the client to okay the idea that essentially “broke the law” was quite an achievement.
“Radiant took 21 months to get through,” he said, “from its inception to actually getting it on air…it’s a lot of hand holding.
“I still say they’re brave though, even in the 21 months of doing it because we basically, essentially, broke the law. Taking something back, and getting a refund that you’d used, is against the law – it was all light-hearted though and we showed them and we didn’t take the money or anything like that – but that’s a big hurdle for a client to get over.”
Will our industry ever get back the larrikin, our empathy to the Australian spirit?
“I haven’t seen a lot,” admitted Spiller. “Yeah it’s out there in little spatters, but I would love that clients see the success of the brands that we’ve worked on…and say ‘we need a bit of that’.”