Saturday, July 16, 2022

Advertising: Just because the image is for free, should we use it?

Yesterday was one of those bizarre days in the advertising scene in Lebanon.

Suddenly three brands (that I know of, maybe there was more) decided to capitalize on the James Webb telescope images by NASA to make their point (or rather not). Just to be clear, the images are copyright free because they were produced by an "American government agency", and since work by such agencies cannot be copyrighted, NASA material is free for use.

But hey, the British Library among thousands upon thousands of institutions is putting things free online in high resolution. So the internet contains of wealth of such materials already. So where's my issue? Just because it is for free, should we use it?

The photos above are one of the original James Webb telescope images, and three local interpretations of it. At best the ads are weird, at worst downright idiotic. Someone told me they were "funny", I fail to catch their humor.

You want strange humor? Watch Scandinavian advertising. Either you get it or you don't. I do and I find it hilarious. Most ads just don't make sense but they're strange, and as I said - incredibly fun. The ads above tick no such boxes.

I can see the "logic" in the brands' thinking - it's new, it's hot, it's for free, it's everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-why-can't-we, so let's strike while the iron is hot. Lately it's getting on my nerves how little strategy there is in advertising these days. Everything is short-sighted and tactical. Nothing for the long run, just focus on the here and now.

Pity, even if legally covered by using non-copyrighted images, brands should take a breather and think about it before they plunge. But that's asking too much out of rookie marketing managers, uneducated designers, and juvenile company owners.