Ads to protest the state of advertising? It might sound a little hypocritical, but some companies are targeting common advertisers and advertisements with the latest viral campaigns: anti-advertising ads. These short, entertaining videos usually spoof a commonly-known advertisement or product. While you’ll mostly spy these shareable spoofs online, there’s a chance that anti-ads could be making their way to a TV nearest you. The anti-ad add-on (say that three times fast), Adblock Plus, has issued a call for an anti-ad creation contest that could thrust the dark side of advertising into the limelight.
While it might seem like fighting fire with fire, the Adblock Plus director says her beef isn’t with advertising as a whole, but rather the type of advertising consumers are exposed to each day. “I am not against ads in general,” said Till Faida, who is managing the contest, “but I am just annoyed by the current state of ads. I have worked in online marketing — I just thought ads could be so much better.”
This isn’t the first time that anti-ads have gained traction. Adbusters, the anti-consumerist organization, released what may be one of the first modern anti-ads in 2007: a depiction of a big-box store called “Whirl-mart,” and an Adbusters resistance movement involving pushing empty carts around the store. Another Adbusters videos zeroes in on Starbucks drinkers, remixing an interview from CBS’s The Early Show into a depiction of how much coffee is in your 31-ounce daily cup of Joe. Not to be outdone, filmmaker Jesse Rosten released his own parody ad to take on Adobe Photoshop in the media.
Adblock Plus is also looking to revolutionize the way that ads are perceived online by creating a whitelist, which is a list of sites that offer unobtrusive advertising. So far, Reddit is one of the sites that makes the cut.
While anti-advertising is usually spotted online, it creates an interesting dialogue for TV advertisers and viewers going forward. Anti-advertising ads are just one part of the issue. Consumers are clearly becoming more discerning when it comes to ads and with the availability of DVR that have the ability to skip commercials altogether means advertisers are scrambling to find new ways to show off their wares. Expect to see more integrated product placement in your favorite shows or interactive advertising via contests, Twitter campaigns, and social networking to help bolster ad efforts while giving the industry a fairly drastic makeover.
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