Every single day consumers are exposed to millions of adverts thrown at them at every turn.

From social media, electronic media, print media, mobile media, among other avenues.

There is so much clutter and competition among brands as they tussle each other to get the attention of consumers.

After all, the purpose of advertising is to inform the consumer about the company’s product or service offering in a way that persuades them to try out the products and services.

In essence, once the company succeeds in getting the attention of the target market, it then becomes easier to get them to patronise a company’s products and services.

As marketers and sales personnel, we are paid to effectively and creatively send a memorable message to the targeted consumer that will lead to closing sales.

The most common way to send that message out is through flighting adverts.

In creating these adverts, marketers need to know where to draw the line when coming up with something that is not so obvious but is still catchy to the eye and mind of the intended audience?

We all agree that creativity should not be stifled, but is using words that insinuate profanity crossing the line?

Just two weeks ago, a local company that is known for sassy adverts that capture trending social issues posted two adverts.

The first one had the words “varume chaivo vanodya pakati pesvondo” and the second one went with the marketing words “The only Avenues still selling juicy thighs and best breasts.”

These two adverts obviously hold strong sexual innuendos.

While these words might seem innocuous, it is plain to see that they are in bad taste.

Some marketers agree that the words border on obscenities by appropriating dirty street lingo and trying to sanitise it.

To be fair, the company normally posts non-offending humour-filled adverts.

But, was the narration of their brief an effective way to capture the market’s attention?

Or it was a shameful and inappropriate marketing gimmick.

According to Doug Kessler, a creative director, “the discussion is really about the power of words, the boundaries of brand and the odd implications of taboo.”

A wrong interpretation of the intended meaning can ruin what could have been a good advert, hence creative directors of adverts must do thorough research on the words they intend to use before throwing them into the deep end.

Marketers know that words are powerful and are used to stir human emotions as a way of building brands, but using obscenities may become too provocative.

Instead of consumers giving attention to the product being marketed, they may end up focusing on the inappropriateness of the advert.

Adverts are meant to provoke a discussion that will lead to trial of the company’s product and services. Local marketers must understand that our society is made up of a people with a culture that is too sensitive to words or pictures that depict the human anatomy when used in advertising.

A night club in the capital had to pull down some of its billboards after a public outcry of the use of semi-naked women on their adverts.

Using profanities to market a product is lame and should be condemned.

Adverts that are offensive tend to negatively impact the brand equity and loses the respect of the audience. Big brands know that a slip in advertising generate the wrong noise and can make them pay a huge price. Our local advertisers can borrow a leaf or two from strong brands, which emphasise on the integrity of their adverts and strive to appeal to different target groups.

Consumer awareness is not accelerated by offending the market, but it will drive away current consumers and would-be consumers while hurting the brand goodwill.

Thus, marketers should be careful when it comes to creativity and must know when to draw the line.

Adverts must, therefore, be considerate of consumers and the power of their roles.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461