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Branding Campaigns With Major Unintended Consequences

Developing branding and marketing campaigns is about creating the best possible circumstances for showcasing the business in the best light.

The best way to do this in Buckinghamshire is to work with a branding agency in High Wycombe on campaigns with clear goals and intent in mind. The clearer your goals, the more likely it is that your campaign will work as intended.

However, very little in this world is straightforward and that goes for double when it comes to marketing campaigns once the target audience and general public see it.


Westinghouse Electric – We Can Do It!

The legacy of the ”We Can Do It!” Campaign poster had such an unintended legacy that many people are not aware that it started as a piece of intenal brand marketing for an electrical parts manufacturer.

Created by J. Howard Miller as part of a series of posters he did for Westinghouse Electric in 1943, “We Can Do It!” was a motivational poster designed to encourage women working manufacturing jobs during the Second World War to work as hard as they can.

It was only used for a month and then shelved by the company, and whilst other depictions of similar characters were highly popular at the time thanks to the song Rosie the Riveter and a genre of “Rosie art” based around the same theme.

However, in 1982 it was republished and became an incredible and enduring symbol of feminism reappropriated as a symbol of female empowerment and strength.


Calvin Klein – Steven Meisel 1995 Campaign

The fashion brand Calvin Klein has always created photography and marketing campaigns that were close to the knuckle, particularly with their campaign with Brooke Shields in the 1980s and their campaigns with Kate Moss in the 1990s.

However, the one campaign that went too far, was banned from the air and even led to a police investigation was a surreal and subversive by Steven Meisel that featured a series of uncomfortable interviews with a wooden background.

The setting and uncomfortable look of the young-looking models (including a 20-year-old Kate Moss) created the implication of some kind of illicit activity, o the point that the FBI investigated whether the adverts violated child exploitation laws.

Calvin Klein took out a full-page advert answering the accusations and the case was dropped when it was revealed that the models were adults, but it is rare for an advertising campaign to be so controversial that an investigation is opened.


Psygnosis – Wipeout

When the Sony Playstation launched in 1995 in the UK, it had an immediate and dramatic effect on how computer and video games were marketed in the country. A lot of both credit and blame for this must fall at the feet of one of the most infamous marketing campaigns in history.

Wipeout, an innocuous fast-paced spaceship racing game rated 3+ by the European Leisure Software Publishing Association, faced considerable controversy that it was promoting drug culture.

This was due to the now infamous “A Dangerous Game” poster, featuring DJ and presenter Sara Cox and another model with bloody noses that had dripped onto their white branded shirts.

Critics and politicians inferred that the poster was making allusions to Class A drugs, although both confirmed and denied by different members of the development team.

However, the controversy worked and Wipeout became a very popular game in clubs and rave venues, unlocking a more adult audience to the entire industry.

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