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Sharp knives, blunt humour spark controversy

Okay, it was only one sharp knife, but supported by an axe, an arrow and a stick of dynamite. 
And many would argue that the humour is not blunt, but really sharp.
These two ads, both from a sector we might think of as fairly stodgy - insurance - have each sparked unexpected controversy, with reactions ranging from disgust to delight.
Hit or miss humour?
US digital life insurance company Ladder serves up a slapstick black-humoured conceit around family members, even the dog, trying to do away with the male policy-holder.
'Life insurance so good they'll want you dead / You'll wish you didn't have it', run the slogans, with a 'serious' reminder that murder nullifies a policy.
Viewer reaction samples:

"Hahahahahah, very funny. Is it controversial? Only if you lack a sense of humour."


"Distasteful. Attempted murder is never funny and the feeble attempt at farce misguided."

In yer face
Meanwhile, over in the UK, a different kind of mayhem was unfolding in the name of popular, classy British department store John Lewis.
John Lewis 'Let Life Happen' home insurance
Subsequently withdrawn, this ad sees a young boy dressing up and running amok in (presumably) his parents' house, with the reassurance that we can comfortably 'Let Life Happen' when our homes are well insured.
It provoked reactions ranging from horror at the careless vandalism of a spoilt child to annoyance that all ads have an 'agenda' to questioning whether insurance panies would pay for what looks like wilful rather than accidental destruction of property. 
Viewer reaction samples:

 "Scratching at the underbelly of the moneyed middle classes cannot be a good move for a brand that sees itself as their darling."

"Sack the nanny immediately!"

"Enough woke already - plus who actually has a house as clean as that to begin with?"


"Sums up my attitude recently. Be inspired by it, take courage. Follow your own spirit and f*ck the lot of them."

Insurance is generally purchased by those with a sense of responsibility and care.
You can't please all of the people all of the time, obvs.
What are your thoughts and/or experience on how the client base of a traditional product might react to 'bold' campaigns?


Posted by Tree Elven on 29/10/2021

Keywords: Insurance commercials, John Lewis home insurance, Ladder life insurance, controversial ads, addvertising.org

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