Q: What have the Britain Thinks website and Xhibits’ Pimp My Ride TV show got in common? A: If you’ve been on either, then quite frankly, you’ve had your sh*t pimped.
That’s one for next years crimbo crackers perhaps, but with the recent release of the Britain Thinks website. Beta, the site creators, have seen fit to usher in the New Year with the kind of bad taste that only a bottle of cod liver oil could induce.
Created to ‘give people a new voice and support the vibrant democracy that the people of Britain already participate in up and down the country – in the pubs, living rooms and street corners of our nation… [they] have no political or religious axe to grind’. Word? Well perhaps not, but the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA) do have outdoor advertising space to sell, in what amounts to a £1.25m campaign aiming to prove that outdoor mediums can be still be effective in driving consumers to web content. Users are encouraged to upload video responses to the featured subjects, thus stimulating the hallowed ‘debate’.
‘Career women make bad mothers. Discuss.’ says one of the three posters in the series. I think I just might, but hoards of angry mums beat me to it. Though instead of visiting the internet forum set up by the advertisers, they flocked to Mumsnet, you know, the website that tore Gordon Brown a new one (in a manner that only mums can) when he apparently failed to reveal his favourite biscuit. The poster (about the mums, not Gordon) were hastily pulled from about 4,000 billboards across the country.
As flawed and clumsily contrived as the messaging is, what really disappoints about the Britain Thinks campaign, its motivations.
The tin says it’s a platform for people to air their thoughts. Open that tin up and what you actually find inside is a desperate advertising ploy that uses little more than controversy and provocation. The silver lining though, was that mums across the country did let them know exactly what they were thinking, which in turn resulted in some authentic people power.