Thursday, May 24, 2007

“Rrrrrred! Red is the Color of SEX!”

Have you seen the movie Kinky Boots? If you haven’t, you absolutely should. My favorite scene in that movie is where the main character, a drag queen, shouts down to the small town boot-factory workers below: [looks horrified] “Burgundy. Please, God, tell me I have not inspired something burgundy. Red. Red. *Red*. *Red*, Charlie boy. *Red*! Is the color of sex! Burgundy is the color of hot water bottles! Red is the color of sex and fear and danger and signs that say, Do. Not. Enter. All my favorite things in life.” (Quote thanks to

Advertising is about standing out. It’s about screaming out to the world: “Look at me! Choose me!” and having people sit up and notice. There’s a cleverness and creativity in an advertising campaign that you just have to appreciate. It gets us to choose one product over another. It gets us to talk about one company instead of another. There’s power in advertising. At least there used to be.

So where did the passion go? With the onslaught of millions of small businesses and home-based companies across North America, advertisers should be biting at the bit to get a piece of the action and there should be creative and interesting ads galore, but there aren’t. There are so few that it’s embarrassing. Advertisers everywhere are choosing burgundy instead of red and we’re passing it through to the public without even a second thought. Today’s advertising campaigns (in general… there are, of course, exceptions) lack heart, intelligence and just plain creative spirit. We approve work we don’t believe in and we agree with our customers even when we know they’re wrong. We do it all in the name of the ever-worshipped dollar. We do it because we’re too burned out to care.

Today, I was sitting in a slogan brainstorming session with a couple of fellow copywriters. We were running through revisions for a customer and I was feeling more frustrated then I have been in quite a while. While some customers have wonderful suggestions and opinions, every now and then you get one who just doesn’t get it. What are your options? Do you give the customer what they want at the risk of their corporate branding going down the tubes, or do you tell them the straight truth? Red or burgundy?

Maybe there is no answer. Maybe advertising is just something that flows up and down and we just have to accept that. Without the terrible, would we even notice the brilliant? If there wasn’t burgundy, maybe the red wouldn’t be as striking. Who’s to really say? A colleague told me that if we had nothing but creative advertisements constantly surrounding us, we wouldn’t be able to handle it. It’s an intriguing thought. With so many advertisements constantly bombarding us, especially on the internet, how would we deal with too many options, too many choices to make, everything seeming fantastic… ?

I hope to remain idealistic. I would hate to think I would reach a point where mediocrity would be something I aspire to. I want to be the one standing atop a crowded room screaming out that we need to have passion and desire and sex. Sometimes we just need to hear that.


Have an opinion? I’d love to hear it. Leave me a comment.


steve said...

Bit of a hot topic! Interesting reading...and you're exactly right. Never settle for mediocrity.

Business logo design said...

Well defined red color...