Has the world gone mad?


I’m used to satire. I love it. Sometimes I don’t have the time for it, and sometimes I can be duped by it, but when it’s so blatantly obvious, and so completely misunderstood I do wonder whether the world has gone mad!

Take the issue that cropped up yesterday with the Onion publishing a spoof Youtube video about smoking turning you gay… hilarious! And surrounded by a bunch of other hilarious satirical news stories… how can this be so misunderstood by so many.

I’ll paraphrase from m’colleague Claire Stokoe’s post over on the Fresh Egg blog, and then quote my own comment:

The Faux campaign was made as a reaction for Conservative congressional staffer who said “Porn makes you Gay”. The video was very funny, if watched on the Onions website next to other titles such as ‘Genetic Scientists Develop Sheep with the Brain of a Goat’ and ‘Breaking News: Bat Loose in the Congress’. I personally dislike the use of the word Gay as mean
New Anti-Smoking Ads Warn Teens ‘It’s Gay To Smoke’
But what did make me stop and think, was the fact that the Utalkmarketing headline hinted that a campaign like this ‘could actually work’.
I then did another search and found that the video had been written about on a whole host of other sites, some that didn’t go into detail of what the Onion was or that the video was in fact meant to be a joke.
One comment that I found on one such site said:
“The point is the video is going to be circulated beyond those that regularly read the Onion and therefore an ambiguous message is dangerous”
I thought this was a very interesting point, after all, as marketers do we stop for one minute to consider the affect of our campaigns, not that I am saying we regularly create bigoted content, but I am sure that the Onion, didn’t intend to offend a whole load of gay people, they made a marketing decision based on current news.

The Faux campaign was made as a reaction for Conservative congressional staffer who said “Porn makes you Gay”. The video was very funny, if watched on the Onions website next to other titles such as ‘Genetic Scientists Develop Sheep with the Brain of a Goat’ and ‘Breaking News: Bat Loose in the Congress’. I personally dislike the use of the word Gay as mean

New Anti-Smoking Ads Warn Teens ‘It’s Gay To Smoke’

But what did make me stop and think, was the fact that the Utalkmarketing headline hinted that a campaign like this ‘could actually work’.

I then did another search and found that the video had been written about on a whole host of other sites, some that didn’t go into detail of what the Onion was or that the video was in fact meant to be a joke.

One comment that I found on one such site said:

“The point is the video is going to be circulated beyond those that regularly read the Onion and therefore an ambiguous message is dangerous”

I thought this was a very interesting point, after all, as marketers do we stop for one minute to consider the affect of our campaigns, not that I am saying we regularly create bigoted content, but I am sure that the Onion, didn’t intend to offend a whole load of gay people, they made a marketing decision based on current news.

Here’s the link to the post – Was it Gay for the Onion’s ‘It’s Gay to smoke’ video to be removed from YouTube? –  which features the original video as broadcast on national TV in the US.

We’ve seen this sort of stuff in the UK alot, and I guess have a more even sense of humour to let this type of thing go.

Here are some examples where things got a little out of hand thanks to the brilliant genius of Chris Morris and Brass Eye… here are the celebrities he duped fighting back, with good commentary from the likes of Will Self:

Here’s my response to Claire (as published on the FE blog):

…there is a certain inevitability of the kind of stir that this video would cause. It also seems uncannily on-topic that here in the UK we currently have a not dissimilar issue thanks to someone using the derogatory name for someone from Pakistan on national TV.

I have a very simple observation on this – we’ve lost our common sense.

Where on earth to you have to have been living to not understand satire at this level?

To my mind this is a fantastic bit of viral marketing, which, as Claire points out, once out there in the worl, once handed over to the community, it’s held aloft for the masses to decide – all control is lost.

For us in marketing this is a success, and reminds me of a quote I frequenetly use – “There’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about”, Oscare Wilde.

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