The Dick Smith ad banned before going to air.


There’s nothing more popular than a banned ad.

Surely that’s why Dick Smith’s gone all rudey-racist in this advertisement for his Aussie made Vegemite equivalent, peanut butter and tomato sauce?

Dick’s an old dog and this isn’t a new trick. As leading media website Mumbrella writes,

A tactic adopted in the US is to create a controversial ad ahead of a big TV event, but to have it banned – which generates free media coverage without having to pay to air it. Among the proponents of this tactic is animal rights group PETA which generated a huge amount of media coverage for its “too hot for the super bowl” veggie lover ad.

Clearly. Loaded with Benny Hill style innuendo and a vignette of refugees staggering away from a burning boat, Dick’s ad gives people plenty to talk about. Twitter is crackling with accolades and outrage.

Job done? Not quite.

Comedian Dan Illic, who produced the Dick Smith ad told Mumbrella that Dick’s fuming that he spent $100,000 on an ad that won’t get a G Rating. That means it can’t be played during prime time news shows. Maybe they went a bit too far. It’s a fine line:  Get people riled up, but not so much that you can’t do it at 6pm.

So. Is the ad any good? That, in my opinion, depends on whether you’re after awareness or sales.

And like all risky strategies, this one could backfire. But already its got thousands of people clicking, tweeting, sharing and discussing. And that is a whole lot of free publicity – and Dick hasn’t paid for a cent of that airtime.

On the other hand, dick jokes and refugees staggering from a burning boat might make shoppers choosier about their peanut butter. Only time – and accountants – will tell.

I’ve got nothing against ads that push the boundaries. Every year I look forward to Sam Kechovich’s rambling thoughts on lamb’s place in Australian culture – obviously it’s the campaign being parodied by the Dick Smith ad.

A few years ago his rant addressed racial demonstrations like those we saw at Cronulla. I’m sure there would have been complaints:

The idea that a barbecued chop can bring about world peace is ridiculous. But I know it makes sense.

Go Sam. Unlike Dick, I hope you never get the chop.

Did you find the Dick Smith Australia Day ad offensive? Do you think it will drive sales of Dick Smith products? What do you think of the Sam Kechovich ads to promote lamb on Australia Day?