Have we lowered our standards in advertising or is this the new norm?

Recently we have seen an influx of advertising that showcases bathroom humor – things like butt cracks or guys talking about passing gas after a sexual encounter. Check out the spots that elicited this post:

Crack Kills or Every bun for themselves?

We have to ask ourselves, “How far are we going?”  We come from a history where the only risque thing we used to see on TV was Mr. Clever getting his own drink or Potsie saying “sit on it.”
What used to be inappropriate conversation seems to now be a part of daily vernacular.  Should we accept this or is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed?  The marketing and advertising world seems to think this is funny and results in sales but the reality is that no one actually shows their butt crack in today’s society – at least not intentionally – nor do we want to think about farts and sex at the same time (at least I hope that is true!).
Even writing about this gives me a little pee shiver down my spine and I worry that my debutant mother and perfectly refined grandmother might report me to the Vanderbilt etiquette police.
As a marketer, the question that I ask is, “Do I want to have this creative slap to my psyche for the :30 seconds of airtime to promote a product or service?” From “sick” condoms to drain cleaners, is this what the public wants, the low-hanging humor fruit?  As consumers, don’t we demand more from the messaging that drives us to make a purchase?  Or, is this merely welcome comic relief ?
In our business, the fact that I can’t get these commercials out of my mind is a good thing, in fact, it is the THING!  But, in my experience, the brand name didn’t stick. I actually had to Google until I found the commercials. I did go to the effort to source these spots because I knew I wanted to write a post about this, but the creators did grab my attention.  As a target market for this drain cleaner (a mom with three men in my house – yes, I am that demo!) would I use this drain cleaner now because of this cheeky commercial? I’d probably give it a whirl… no pun intended … because I do like a brand that can make fun of itself and make me think or feel something. But, am I accepting this new norm of bathroom humor as part of our regular dialogue?  If this isn’t too far, what will be?  I want to feel something when I see a spot, but what if I have a visceral reaction (Oh no they didn’t!!) then it is probably a fail.
Advertisers and clients need to think about what is being said and how it is being said. We are moving into an era that is more exposed, with less ‘off-limit’ topics.  Social media has made an entire generation chronicle every facet of their life for all to see – bodily functions included!  Maybe this is the new era of marketing or maybe it is the time to rethink what we really want to say?  After seeing these spots, I had to ask myself if I really wanted to see that, share that, or know that?  As an agency, we have to think about whether this will sell or move consumers and, even if it does, should we be doing this?
I leave you with these thoughts and encourage discussion.  If you have any thoughts on this, don’t flush them don’t the toilet!  Instead, let’s clear the air and hear what you think!
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