Mock Outrage Over An Ad You Paid For? Reverse Streisand Effect

from the oh-come-on dept

As the concept of The Streisand Effect has become more and more well known, the question I’m most frequently asked is whether or not a company stupidly demanding something be taken down is really being done by someone that understands the likely result and is just using the resulting “attention” to their advantage — that is, are they pulling a “reverse Streisand Effect.” It’s often pretty difficult to sort out these cases from the real Streisand Effect, and when in doubt, it’s often best to just assume the simplest explanation that the company really was acting stupidly.

However, in this latest case, I’m really not sure — and am starting to suspect a Reverse Streisand Effect by J.C. Penney to promote a new viral video. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that J.C. Penney is pissed off at its ad firm Saatchi & Saatchi for “leaking” a “fake” ad that “appears to be endorsing teen sex.” The ad involves a young boy and girl practicing getting dressed as quickly as possible before the boy goes over to the girl’s house to hang out in the basement, while the girl’s mother is upstairs. Supposedly J.C. Penney “instructed Saatchi to take any action it can to have the ad removed from the Internet.”

Uh huh. And now, suddenly, that ad is all over the internets. The whole thing smacks of mock outrage with a demand to takedown content knowing that it will only spread far and wide. So what do people think? Is this a Reverse Streisand Effect or is J.C. Penney just clueless?

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: j.c. penney, saatchi & saatchi

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Mock Outrage Over An Ad You Paid For? Reverse Streisand Effect”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: re:Mock Outrage...

It can be both. I’d say they are trying to get a reverse Streisand Effect going, but they’re clueless to how it can backfire.

Think about it. You see a report on how JCP is trying to force a video offline. You go track it down, witch is a simple task since they aren’t really trying to take it down. JCP gets the eyeball time, but are you going to be more enticed to shop there?

I won’t be. In fact I probably will be less likely to shop there since they’re just trying to lead the sheeple around.

Michael Hayes says:

Re: re:Mock Outrage...

No, it cannot be both… The reverse streisand effect is when JC Penney is doing this Consciously and Purposefully in order to get the desired effect of viral video dissemination across the internet.
Someone acting “Consciously and Purposefully” is not acting Cluelessly.

wasnt me (user link) says:

well considering Teen sex is becoming more and more of a hot topic, i think Saatchi & Saatchi came up with this add but JC weren’t confident enough to go with it, so some1 (im thinking the team in saatchi that came up with the add) proposed to do this.

so if the adds became too controversial JC penny would be off the hook so to speak while Saatchi would still get credit for it.

some old guy says:

which conspiracy is more fun

I would tend to believe that the ad company came up with the idea, pitched it to JCP, and viola, cogs were in motion. Why? ’cause that’s their job. They are SUPPOSED to come up with sneaky ways of getting eyeball time. They are SUPPOSED to make sure the client looks *innocent*.

I would not tend to believe that JCP thought this stratagem up itself.

Does it all seem sneaky and underhanded? Hell ya. Of course it does, there’s an advertising company at work here.

And no, it just doesn’t seem likely that this could be an accident when it’s an advertiser wet dream come true.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, that’s what makes it seem somewhat gratuitous – but only slightly. Yes, the term has been used a lot, but it could be much worse – remember ‘Because of You’ by Kelly Clarkson? Ouch, because of her I can’t even walk and chew gum on the sidewalk!

At any rate, it’s clear that ‘come on’ is probably only entitled to a friggin’ break. If he wants a more intense respite, he’ll just have to use up some vacation time.

Matt (profile) says:

Probably the Truth

I tend to think the reporting on this one is mostly right (but I work in marketing, so take that for what it’s worth).

Saatchi recently won the JCP account. It’s common for agencies to produce “spec” spots for pitches – advertising that the client doesn’t see and isn’t aware of before the pitch. It’s done to show the client that the agency “gets” their brand. The work usually never sees the light of day. I’d guess that’s what happened in this case. The agency worked with a director (who was probably trying to build his reel) to produce the spot on the cheap for the pitch, then it was likely leaked by someone at the agency or by the director after the pitch w/o JCP’s approval.

The people at JCP are as conservative as they come regarding protecting their brand (I live near their HQ). Red state Americans are their bread and butter, so I doubt that they’d have any interest or willingness to participate in a reverse “Streisand Effect” type plot.

comboman says:

Plausible deniablity

It’s more likely to be plausible deniablity than reverse Streisand effect. A company with JC Penney’s demographic doesn’t want to be seen as promoting teen sex, so this was a way to get the ad out without needing to accept responsibility for it and tick off any of their customers who might be offended by it.

Scott H says:

What would be interesting is...

…if JC Penney’s ad firm sends out DMCA takedown notices to people/sites with the video (if they really are serious about taking “any action it can”) but the come to find out that it really is a scam to promote their own product using a ES (Streisand Effect…reversed :).

Somehow, I would think that JC Penney would be in a heap of legal trouble for sending out fake DMCA notices when in fact it was intentional for the ad to be spread and they just abused the copyright laws to draw more attention to it. If, in fact, that’s what they are planning on doing.

Sailor Ripley says:

Re: What would be interesting is...

They can’t get in any trouble at all, as long as the DMCA takedown notices are legit, as in, requests to take down content the requester has the copyright for.
Doesn’t matter whether or not you secretly want the content you ask to be taken down to be distributed more as a result

Bill Royds says:

It is actually brilliant

What they have done is preserve JCP’s lily-white moral reputation amongst the majority of its customers, while also creating an underground reputation that will expand its business in areas where it is weak.

Satchi doesn’t mind taking the blame becuase it diffuses it from JCP and enhancs their market value as advertising creators.

ad-critic says:

Funny why everyone is blaming JC Penney or Epoch films for being the culprit when Saatchi is the agency that benefits most by winning the award ; P

It’s equally funny that Saatchi has to scam ads like this when agencies like Crispin does cut through breakout viral and integrated work for big names and paying clients.

I question the relevance of agencies like Saatchi, which can only do creative work by bypassing the client. This spot is done by Saatchi as no production agency will presume to be a client’s ad agency by doing this to win awards.

I don’t really think this ad is really any good in that it does not tie with the tagline and fails to connect with the key audience for JC Penny i.e. parents.

So what if it has gone viral? Interesting viral videos are a dime a dozen these days with limited lifespan. And most do not build brands or connect people to the brand in a meaningful manner.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...