Targeting v context

Joachim B Olsen is a Danish politician.

Since 2011, he’s been a member of parliament for the Liberal Alliance party.

Recently, he was standing for re-election and wanted to stretch his campaign funds as far as he could.

He wanted to target as many potential voters as possible for the money.

So he ran his advertisements on Pornhub.

Pornhub is the world’s leading free porn site, users can choose from millions of hardcore videos that stream quickly and in high quality.

Joachim Olsen’s reasoning was as follows:

Pornhub gets 100 million visits a day, 75% of those are male.

Visitors to Pornhub tend to be younger men, progressive and liberal in their views.

So, pretty much the ideal media for Liberal Alliance politics, and the cost was just $450.

As Olsen himself says: "You have to be where the voters are".

Olsen himself is young, just 41, and doesn’t always take things too seriously.

He said: "It’s good to bring a smile to people’s lips."

Consequently, his advertisement just features a picture of himself and a headline.

The joke in the headline hinges on the abbreviation of the name Joachim being Jokke, a word which in Danish, is also slang for wank.

So, in English, it would translate as: "After you’ve had a jokke (wank) vote for Jokke."

Obviously, Olsen knew the papers would pick up on his ad, that was OK.

Any controversy was all free media, and it worked.

Olsen has had articles about his ad on all the major news networks, he’s been interviewed on chat shows, he’s been featured in newspapers and magazines.

And like any good story, it’s the controversial element that makes it newsworthy: so many people are outraged and disgusted.

Olsen knew this would happen, as he says: "I am well aware that some people are outraged. One cannot say anything today without people being outraged."

But I think the more interesting debate is about targeting.

Is advertising just about targeting: reaching the correct demographics and numbers?

Or is advertising also about context?

Is where your ad runs as important as who sees it?

Because the numbers won’t always tell you that part.

Years ago, I had a discussion with Julian Neuberger, head of media at GGT.

As a creative, context seemed to me much more important than it did to the media guys.

For instance, in those days there was a lot of crossover between the people who read The Sunday Times and the people who read the News of the World.

Many people read both, so it was cheaper to buy ABC1s in the News of the World.

I thought the decision shouldn’t just be made on numbers and cost, if I ran an identical ad in both papers, it sent out different messages.

For instance, imagine an identical Rolex watch in the window of Watches of Switzerland or the window of H Samuel, where would it look more prestigious and valuable?

David Abbott was an expert on media, his ads about the high-quality of Sainsbury’s products were double-pages in the Sunday Times magazine.

But the Sainsbury’s double-page ads for topical cut-price offers ran in The Sun.

It must make sense: you wouldn’t run the quality ads in the tabloids and the cut-price ads in the Sunday supps.

The different contexts send out totally different messages, even if the same people read it.

But sheer numbers won’t tell you that, they can target people but they can’t target context. You need a human brain for that.

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three


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