Marketing lesson 521: How to make a total mockery of your client

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costabrava_497084aEvery so often I read about an agency doing something so jaw-droppingly stupid that it makes me want to hang my head in shame to be working in the same industry.


This month, the gong must surely go to Be Brand who is responsible for creating an ad for the Costa Brava featuring a photo of – wait for it – an Australian beach, crudely photoshopped to look ‘more Spanish’.

Yes, some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to buy in a nice Perth seascape photo from Getty Images – complete with Aussie husband and son looking out to sea – and then superimpose a bit of Catalan on their t-shirts.

Why? Why? And again, why? There’s no denying that the marketing industry revolves around showing our clients in the best possible light – but on what planet does that translate into passing off a location at the other end of the globe as the Northeastern coast of Spain?

What a spectacular PR own goal for the Costa Brava tourist authority who now look to all the world as if the region has not a single decent view to recommend itself. If its tourism industry was flagging before this little debacle, it surely will be on its knees after it.

Looking at our own projects for the coming month, I wonder what would happen if we employed the same approach? Might we dispense with images of an office development we’re promoting and use pics of the Rockerfella building instead? We might well decide that clothes from our fashion clients aren’t hip enough and just borrow some shots from Marc Jacobs. Or, if we decree that the heads of our client companies aren’t sufficiently photogenic, we could perhaps lift a photo of Brad Pitt and photoshop a corporate logo onto his shirt. The possibilities are endless.