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Dangerfield “F word” ad sends strong message to start-ups

Monday, 8 August 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Start-ups have been warned not to cross the line between cheeky and crass marketing, after teen fashion label Dangerfield came under fire for using the “F word” in its latest ad campaign.

 

Dangerfield, which has built up a cult following among Australian teenagers and young 20-somethings, is known for its edgy street wear and quirky advertising.

 

The chain has been slammed by various family groups for posters featuring the slogan “Dangerfield F--- Off Winter Sale”, which can be seen in certain suburbs throughout Melbourne.

 

The controversial sales strategy comes while Victorians are threatened with $238.90 on-the-spot fines for using foul language in public.

 

The Victorian Parents Council has labelled the poster inappropriate and crass, claiming it doesn’t have a “place” in the fashion industry.

 

A spokesperson for FamilyVoice Australia says the sign is a cheap way to attract attention.

 

“[It] highlights the irresponsible way that some companies put their grasp for profits before respect for women,” the spokesperson says.

 

Jo Macdermott, founder and director of Next Marketing, says there is a fine line between cheeky and crass advertising, particularly when it comes to start-ups.

 

“Whether or not [stunt marketing] is a smart move for a start-up is questionable… How far you take it is a calculated risk,” she says.

 

“If you’re just starting up with no real budget and your marketing stunt goes pear-shaped, is it worth it? If you want to be taken seriously… I wouldn’t recommend that sort of marketing.”

 

Michael Halligan, co-founder of Engage Marketing, says stunt marketing can be a great way to make a powerful statement and generate exposure, which is ideal for start-ups.

 

“Marketing stunts are particularly effective where you have a product or service to market that is buzz-worthy. Ideally, your product has an interesting offering or a remarkable attribute,” he says.

 

“When planning your marketing stunt, think about the extremes. The market is most likely to pick up on something that is extremely funny, extremely creative, extremely confronting, etc.”

 

However, Halligan says start-ups must not fall into the trap of focusing their energy solely on the stunt itself.

 

“The best marketing stunts are able to generate exposure far beyond their existing platform. Do something creative and noteworthy enough, and people will talk about it.”

 

Meanwhile, Macdermott says start-ups must be prepared for a possible backlash against their brand if they push the boundaries too far, as evidenced in the Dangerfield example.