In a bold move today – comedian, sports broadcaster, and all around great guy – Colin Cosell put out a public service announcement stating that he will not be wearing pants until more people watch hockey. Watch the PSA on the right.
Akin to the classic 1981 poster campaign where a model makes promises to remove her clothing, whether he knows it or not, Colin is testing the power of internet advertising, Facebook campaigning and YouTube media all in one – through what is referred to as shock value. Granted, it is likely that many more people wanted to see that bikini disappear than want to see Colin Cosell without pants, he attempting to create a buzz nonetheless. Although, I doubt his protest will cause more people to watch hockey, it may cause more people to watch Colin Cosell.
As you can see on the left, the 80’s model did in fact keep her promise, although probably not exactly the way people were hoping she would. If you were around back then, and had your ear in advertising circles, you may have heard about this, because it created quite a buzz. In Oglivy on Advertising, David Ogilvy reports that “all Paris was agog” over this series of posters. Although nudity in European advertising was nothing new, people were still curious to see what was going to happen.
Is Colin really not wearing pants? It is summer, so maybe he is just wearing shorts. Maybe he has a nice pair of heart boxers on, some silk Marvin the Martian Boxers or maybe a pair of white briefs with skid marks. (Gross!)
Regardless of what Colin’s fashion faux pas is, I assume that he is going to keep his promise one way or another, just as our lovely french friend did. I can also guarantee that the people who saw Colin’s first ‘PSA’ are at least a tad bit curious as to what his next move is going to be. If he follows through and does something shocking, different, or out of the ordinary, people will talk, people will listen, and people will come to his website (if you build it, they will come).
The french posters were actually a BtoB marketing campaign from the French advertising agency Avenir who plastered them all over the public transport system in Paris to prove the power of advertising.
While I was working as an Art Director at Giaccone Storytellers advertising agency, I designed an ad for Albe Furs which created quite a buzz. Although I didn’t realize the effect it would have when I designed it, some of their clientele were shocked! “Come See What’s Inside” was the headline. The visual, although simply a woman in a fur coat, suggested something more, and this suggestion alone caused an uproar. The client reported people coming in and complaining about it, saying it was inappropriate and other such comments. He also had people come in and say how much they loved it. Albe loved the ad and the publicity – both the positive and the negative feedback – he was happy to know that his name was on peoples lips and in their minds. This was not the first time, nor the last time that one of his ads was drastic and bold in tone and message, but each time he used one, he got the desired effect. The owner of Giaccone Storytellers, Joe Giaccone – my mentor at the time – lives by the mantra “You can’t BORE people into buying from you.” This concept rings true with me as well, although I like to take it a step further and say that you CAN shock people into talking about you.
It doesn’t matter if you are Colin Cosell, Avenir, Albe Furs, or anyone else. Good advertising and marketing stands out from the crowd. Do something different. Create a buzz around a product or service. Today is no different than it was 30 years ago (Sheesh has it been that long since the 80’s? I feel old.) Be tasteful, but be BOLD. Don’t be afraid to walk the fine line. Don’t be afraid of the critics. People will talk. Let them talk! Encourage them to talk! The Irish author Brendan Behan was credited with saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” If your name, brand, and company is on everyone’s tongue and in everyone’s mind, you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Although I don’t really want to see a YouTube video of Colin’s bare ass, I am curious nonetheless to see where he is going to take this, and furthermore, curious to see if his bold moves increase his YouTube hits and/or Web site traffic. Only time will tell. Colin – I apologize if I stole your thunder or ruined your punchline, but show me what you got!