How do I offend thee? Let me count the ways....

In an awful appropriation of a line from a beautiful Elizabeth Barret Browning poem, I shall ask "How do I offend thee, let me count the ways..." as the headline for thinking about advertising.

A friend of my wife's think the Momentum Life advert featuring nude middle aged people is in poor taste. Oh no, not for her the need to be reminded that skin is not so toned, nor body quite so pert, as it once was. This was slightly surprising, because at other times this person is not afraid of being forthright, or engaging in bawdy humour. But I must not digress.

A key axis of tension in marketing is between these two ideas:

  • Show images your audience will identify with, but might be a bit too realistic
  • Show images your audience will aspire to, but might be a bit too unrealistic

You can be criticised for only showing beautiful people, or people of just one type, or only thin people, or...

You can be criticised for showing too much reality - older people with average bodies, people not speaking perfectly, mess, vox-pops etc...

As an advertiser, using a medium that reaches many people, only one thing is certain: you will be criticised.

I actually think the Momentum Life adverts were quite good. In some respects, very good. The cliche of 'shopping naked' is an obvious reference for a company wishing to highlight its ease of application process. A further reference may be to the exposure that one feels when completing application forms, something Momentum rarely requires.