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Unbelievable advertising

By The Drum, Administrator

January 30, 2009 | 2 min read

The debate surrounding the British Humanist Association (BHA) advertising campaign (above), which broke earlier this month on London buses, claiming that “there’s probably no God”, continues to run and run – or rather, in one case, sit, parked in the terminal as one driver, a devout Christian, refused to drive a bus carrying that particular message. Prior to this twist in the tale, the ads, supported by high profile atheist Dr Richard Dawkins, were reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. However, the ASA cleared them to run.

It was then that the media debate started in ernest, attracting impassioned calls from both sides, including some choice quotes in the papers: “Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large,” just one.

The adverts have an “if you can do it, we can too” feel to them, as atheists, almost cheekily, stick their fingers up at the church. “If it raises a smile as well as making people think, so much the better,” said the CEO of the BHA... A spoiler campaign to rival all spoiler campaigns?

However, above all else, the campaign seems to have one sole purpose – to provoke reaction. Like all good advertising should. And, no-matter the rights or wrongs of the campaign, it has certainly done that.

So, as the debate rages on and in the true spirit of The Chip Shop Awards, The Drum asked creative teams to come up with their own spoiler campaigns. While the merits of Christianity may be a serious subject for many, we decided to change the tone. Lower it, some might even suggest.

The BHA claims that there’s “probably” no God. But The Drum would out money on the fact that there is no Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy or Bogeyman. We asked The Raft, Merle, The Kings Arms, Uber, Stiff Rowlands, Big Communications and Iris Manchester to come up with some executions to get our messages across.

See over page for more campaigns and credits

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