What if the US Federal Government had an Ad Campaign?

27 Jan

I came across this brilliant article on Harper’s magazine titled “A Super Bowl for Uncle Sam” — a forum of four Madison Av. creative directors (Grey Group, Saatchi and Saatchi, Wieden+Kennedy and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) brainstorming hypothetical advertising campaigns for the U.S. federal government to run during the Super Bowl. It is no secret to us Canadians that our neighbors down south don’t like their federal government. Ever since the late 1960’s popularity began to fall in what now has become a national feeling of discontent- no matter who is running the gorvernment, it is described as “constipated,” “obese,” “crappy” “bureaucracy” run by a “bunch of yahoos,” or by a “bunch of [profanity deleted].” .

In any business, when consumers opinion has taken a negative turn, it’s time to reinvent the brand and launch a new marketing campaign — why not do the same for the government? After a debate, the ad men come to the conclusion that it’s the federal brand, not the product, that Americans hate. No one really dislikes the post office employee that brings the mail everyday or NASA’s astronauts; what people hate is the federal brand. The immediate association is one of bureaucracy, crazy spending, poor decisions and unethical behavior. How can marketers change that opinion? The article goes through all the possible directions this ad could take — either cynical, informative or plain emotional.

Can advertisement change the product not just the image- can it influence a change within an organization as big as the US government? Well there is that old adage that the fastest way to kill a bad product is with good advertisement.

I will let you make the judgment on what campaign works the best reminding Americans that although the government has a lot of problems the U.S. is not such a bad place to live. (Unfortunately you are going to have to go see the ads in the nearest magazine stand- below is the pic of Goodby and Silverstein’s, which has this accompanying website).

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