OUTRAGE!! On sale now.
Did you see that ad from Ancestry.com? It’s not great. In an attempt to build storytelling around the unknown stories of our pasts, Ancestry.com told the story of a white slave owner falling in love with a black slave girl.
It tripped a wire. And people are outraged. This seems to happen quite a lot.
Like that time Kendall Jenner popped a can of Pepsi then clumsily plonked her way through an outdated homage to the world-famous Coke ad that featured in Madmen. Outrage.
Or all the mansplaining to the men-folk on all the many ways they could sharpen up with Gillette. Outrage.
And let’s not forget the guy who was outraged by a dairy in a milk ad.
It’s not just in advertising. Seems like any number of mis-steps and misdemeanours can get called out at any moment to be amplified by algorithms and explode into full blown outrage. It’s a real thing.
So much outrage on my feed right now. But what does it actually achieve?
Pretty much bugger all.
Outrage is the social-media equivalent of a two-year-old stamping her feet and screaming that world isn’t fair. There’s no question she’s right, the world isn’t fair. But stamping and screaming does nothing.
Worse still, outrage obliterates relevant argument with emotion and emoji. It really doesn’t help..
This point is well made by the dairy hater on Stoppress. They posted a piece about a charming ad for Meadow Fresh milk. It featured a girl walking to the dairy. Who could have a problem with that?
Turns out Sam from anonymous was outraged. “Dairy is super damaging to children's health,” he rants. “It's a shame that ads like this are still being made.” What bollucks.
Sam tried to make a relevant point about the challenges of childhood obesity. But he wrapped it all up in hopeless hyperbole with a call to arms about banning ads with dairies in them. Seriously?
And that’s what outrage does. Nothing useful.
There are things that aren’t right and we should call them out. There are things that need changing and we should work to change them. But outrage won’t do it. It’s self-indulgent piety that does little more than make a fuss and miss the point.
The Ancestry ad was shit. Don’t buy from them. The Pepsi ad was shit. Don’t buy from them. The Gillette ad was ironically mansplainy. Don’t buy from them. And if you don’t like dairies, don’t buy from them either.
But don’t get caught up in the outrage. It’s too easy and massively ineffective. So what if we aim for mildly miffed and deliver productive change instead?
That’s what I reckon, what do you think?