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‘Misrata Devastation’

‘Misrata Devastation’

Did you see the big yellow sticky Nestle ad on yesterday’s Gulf News? Alex McNabb did and he wonders how the ad can make any sense for Gulf News, Nestle and even the reader.

April 26, 2011 4:05 by

This (picture on the left) is the front cover of today’s Gulf News Paper Edition. You may notice that instead of the expected devastation captioned above, we have a bright yellow sticker advertising Nestlé bottled water. Only when removing the sticker can you see the front page headline picture.

I have railed against this before. I simply can’t see how it makes sense for any of the three parties to the transaction. How can it make sense to Gulf News to sell its most valuable editorial real estate like this? Removing the sticker also removes the newsprint below, leaving the image degraded. The message is so far at odds with the content, it’s almost ludicrous. This is where the second party to the transaction comes in – how does Nestlé Middle East or Nestlé’s agency honestly think it effectively positions the company’s brand to have it so strongly associated with negative headlines and editorial connotations?

I have spent years dealing with advertisers who want to promote their products only within the context of the best, most positive and relevant editorial environments, and yet here’s Nestlé gladly occupying ‘Misrata Devastation’! Are they mad? The irritation provoked by the daft placement of the message, let alone having to remove it, has had nothing but a negative connotation for the Nestlé brand for readers, as far as I can see.

As it happens, this particular example is, I would humbly submit, worse than usual. Do you really want your brand linked to the (appalling) devastation of Misrata? Or the terrifying and saddening events in Syria? But it’s never going to be good – front pages are sold on the basis of negative news. When was the last time you saw a pregnant panda leading the news*? It’s a no-brainer, surely. The front page is negative and the front page, if the editor has done his/her job, the news we really, really want to see. Not have stickered by inane advertising.

And now last, and I suspect least, we come to the third party to the transaction. The hapless reader/subscriber. In having to remove this silly sticker in order to view the front page of the newspaper, I have been presented with a momentary irritation. I could understand in these internet days of ‘freemium’ models if I had accepted a downgraded experience in return for a free product, but I didn’t. I paid for Gulf News.

-This post was originally published on Fake Plastic Souks

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1 Comment

  1. Hippo_crit on April 27, 2011 8:59 am

    We sometimes credit the reader for being very smart other times we play him for a fool.
    To start with i do not work for neither Nestle, Gulf News nor am i related in any way to that agency that booked the space.
    True it is always best to link the brand to the most relevant subject possible and send the message to the “victim” who paid for the newspaper in the best state of mind (maybe Nestle should advertise their water bottles on magazines that talk about water falls?? or to the 10 readers of Green Magazines) however with such tactical campaigns its all about numbers and exposure.
    The reader above was assumed to be both dumb and smart. 1- The reader’s reaction here was not, Oh my god, Nestle attacked Misrata; readers are slightly smarter than that (this is where they were assumed too dumb). 2- the reader did not think, oh this brand is associating itself to negative news, this is definitely gonna impact the way its seen, i do not want to associate myself with a brand that has such bad placement. They just said, Oh Nestle ad yellow sticker, nice offer, this could save me a few bucks.

    Readers are humans just like us (duh) they picked the newspaper, saw the ad even before reading the title (as it was in yellow) then they read the title and checked the picture by removing the sticker (which by the way does not tear the ad because i tried it) actually, the sticker hiding the picture made them even more curious to look under it (most of the readers of Gulf News dont know where Misrata is and are unaffected by the news) AND THEY CARRIED ALONG WITH THEIR LIVES (he still needed to drop his kids to school, take his wife’s car to service and deal with his boss as he was gonna be LATE AGAIN!).
    We are used to seeing ads, nothing new about that, we are exposed to so much advertisement every single day (yes we also know that if a brand is featured in a movie, that product placement has been paid for) such executions/promotions are understood by readers and when relevant to a need they have (if they buy family bottled water), they will answer to the call to action. We can all by cynical and sarcastic when commenting about something but sometimes it is also good to be objective. The brand was not damaged, in fact i would like to hear from Nestle if their call center today wasn’t overwhelmed with calls (I’m gonna call them in a bit, I’m sure the author and some of the readers of this article also did).


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