By now it’s clear to everyone that to really get attention you have to cut through the clutter. Create a unique, unusual, appealing, well-targeted message to set your brand apart from all others competing for the customer’s attention. But just when you think you have it figured out, trouble could be just around the corner. Even a decade before digital and viral came of age, Daffy’s, a discount clothing retailer on the East Coast found itself in a bit of hot water after one of its ad campaigns seemed to cross the lines into offensive territory.
Seeking to set itself apart in a memorable ad with humor, Daffy’s copy read, “If you’re paying over $100 for a dress shirt, may we suggest a jacket to go with it?” To the left of the copy was a photo of a straightjacket. While some folks smiled, others found such a statement offensive. Organizations complained that the ad displayed bias against people with mental illness. However, the American Association of Advertising Agencies concluded that the ads did not “knowingly” set out to be offensive and while it’s true that certain words, such as “crazy,” and “nuts” could be offensive, they were just too prevalent in advertising to be scrubbed altogether.
What else could be expected from a name like, “Daffy Dan’s Bargain Town?” It was actually famous for nutty ads. Using the slogan, “Clothing bargains for millionaires,” the owner once parked rented Rolls-Royce limousines in front of his store to convey the idea that millionaires might actually be shopping its discounted racks. And after decades of zany ads and smart moves such as locating a store in a prestigious shopping district next to Brooks Brothers, Daffy’s has joined the social media mix with Twitter, Facebook and a blog. And everything’s just ducky with them.
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