Monday, 2 March 2009

When is it okay to use a mass murderer in your advertising?

CHE I have a friend, who, like me is heartily disgusted with Powershop.co.nz using the image of a mass murderer in their advertising. As she says, it’s bloody vile, so she’s sent them this excellent letter:

I think it is absolutely disgusting that you have used an image of Che Guevara to advertise your energy. Of course, in a society of free speech, that is your privilege to do so. This man is not a great revolutionary, he is a mass murderer and a coward, and whoever made this decision to use his image ought to be ashamed of themselves. At least do your homework and find out what he was responsible for. Power, at the cost of thousands of deaths of innocent people who did not hold his ideal? Give me a break! Despicable.

I await their reply with interest.

UPDATE: MikeE received a reply from Powershop that claims a semiotic justification for using a murderer in their advertising: the image of Ché, they say “has been adopted as a symbol of change in pop-culture. This image now has its own meaning that has very little, if anything, to do with Ché the person - as shallow as that may seem.”

Note that it was them who used the word “shallow” first.

Still, they say, “The poster you refer to appeared alongside others with similar messages of change and revolution. These posters have now been taken down and image does not appear in our TV commercial.”

So thank goodness for small mercies, huh. However symbolic they might be.

7 comments:

  1. I saw an ad for this on the telly the other night and nearly choked in outrage! I sent them this via their website:

    Nice to see you using Che Guevara on your advertising... is that because you're hoping to slaughter the opposition, just like Guevara did in Cuba? Whoever organised your marketing should have taken the time to look into who you've chosen as a public face for advertising. This man personally killed the uncle of a friend of mine because he listened to rock music. Power to the people? My arse.

    Still, could have been worse I suppose - could have been endorsed by Sue Bradford.

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  2. ooww bugger I thought you were posting on British American tobacco....

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  3. You do know what a murderer is, don't you BB?

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  4. bustedblonde - if it were about tobacco, it'd be mass suicide wouldn't it?

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  5. I sent a message of complaint about this to powershop a few days ago but haven't heard anything back.

    As i wrote to them it's like "Bar Lenin" at the Viaduct - and hey, never mind the brutal realities of those who lost their lives under Communist regimes and their supporters (like my now deceased neighbour Harold from Estonia who lost his remaining family members in the gulags after WW2) as long as you think you appear "chic and cool" in your advertising - that's the main thing, right? Stupid Pricks.

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  7. In response to MikeE:

    Firstly, let me sincerely apologise to you and anyone else who is offended by, disturbed by, or who has just cause to be upset by our use of Ché Guevara as part of our advertising campaign - this is clearly not our intention.

    Right, wrong or otherwise the image of Ché has been adopted as a symbol of change in pop-culture. This image now has its own meaning that has very little, if anything, to do with Ché the person - as shallow as that may seem.

    It is the symbol (that of change) that we have adopted in our advertising, not Ché himself.

    Of course we are not promoting any political messages nor condoning execution or other atrocities.

    We have used this imagery as a very small part of our promotion - our pre-launch street campaign (the heartland of pop-culture) - to signal that a change in electricity is coming. The poster you refer to appeared alongside others with similar messages of change and revolution. These posters have now been taken down and image does not appear in our TV commercial.

    http://blog.powershop.co.nz/?p=41

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