Monday, August 20, 2012

Controversial Bic commercial - whose to blame?

Bic Pens released a controversial commercial that raised the ire of the Canadian Asian community. The premise had an Asian actor playing a dictator sentencing prisoners. He had a condemned ink stamp for a handful of prisoners. When he needed to hand write "pardoned" on to a document his pen let him down. So he uses a “condemned” stamp instead.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky Toronto obliged the clients request and requested all spots be pulled last Tuesday. However, stations need to let requests like that filter through the system and sometimes it just can't happen over night. As a result additional ads ran as late as Thursday of last week causing Bic to point all the blame at their agency.

The question remains, was Bic's marketing department in a vacuum when this commercial was proposed, approved, viewed and subsequently released?
It's a questionable creative, but the agency and client should assume equal blame for this one.

Winning awards seems to have been the primary focus behind this commercial, not on-brand creative. Please tell me this whole process was not a charade to give Bic a bad boy image. Just tell me it was a poorly conceived direction by both client and agency and we'll write this one off to some bad choices. The question is, will you use a Bic to do it.

With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.
Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

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