One of the basic rules of copy-writing is to speak in a language your target audience will understand – use the types of words they use. Perhaps this is why Remove a Tenant used the phrase ‘Are your tenants household pests’ in a recent Facebook post.

The ad has caused a stir among tenant’s organisations who – understandably don’t think of themselves as ‘household pests’. Indeed, it has probably been seen more times in the press reports about the ad than on Facebook itself.

It raises three interesting questions:

  1. In terms of shockvertising the trend is pretty clear. The current system of regulation in the UK, in which media providers have a duty to report on unacceptable ads n the hope that the advertisers will be punished through bad press, doesn’t really work. If a brand knows that the can get tons of free ‘earned’ media space by pushing the boundaries of acceptable advertising, they have a clear incentive to do so.
  2. In terms of click bait, media providers also have a clear incentive to discuss (and give free media space) to unacceptable ads as they seem to be a great way to get clicks, comments an social interactions each of which the media provider sells to advertisers. By promoting something that harms advertising, they make themselves more valuable to advertisers. Weird.
  3. Finally, there’s a movement in UK ad regulation to police language use. This is driven by some recent discrimination legislation. We know the ASA are now advising brands to not depict women and other groups in stereotypical or negative ways. In this case, the question is, are tenants a group that can be offended as a group? I worry how this can ever be policed.

Are advertising regulators becoming the SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS of the busiess world? Ever to be trolled by brands and media providers who monetise their offence?