Thursday, 13 August 2009

Social Experiment Leaves Maidstone Hopping Mad

A fly-posting campaign dubbed as a ‘social experiment’ by its creators is causing mayhem in the town of Maidstone. The campaign features an image of a drugged-up, Donnie Darko-esque cartoon rabbit with no words or explanation, which has been appearing all over the walls and street furniture around the town. The town centre is up in arms and the local council have got involved, but the eerie poster’s creator is intent on making a point about the way we are flooded with advertising every single day without questioning it.

Calling himself ‘Jonny Darko’, he said: “It is a social experiment. Every day the public is subliminally bombarded with vulgar, brash advertising. Product placement is everywhere you look. But because that advertising is paid for by big companies with money to throw at your council, it's considered acceptable. The objective of the rabbit head is just to see if a silly yet sinister image can break through that wall of routine in everyone's daily lives, and if they will start to notice their surroundings more and question everything.”

However, Maidstone town centre manager Bill Moss is furious. “This is not a social experiment, it is a disgrace and an insult to Maidstone”, he said. “For people who think that the posters will just be taken down and that’s that, they are wrong, it has caused thousands-of-pounds worth of damage as we have had to get a team out to take them down and then re-paint where it was – and that is coming out of the rate payers’ pocket. If these idiots want to do what they think is a social experiment then they should plaster their own houses in this graffiti, but don’t bring it into Maidstone.” Scary...

Maidstone councillor Stephen Paine, meanwhile, is taking things into his own hands by ripping down the posters and encouraging others to do the same. “If the guys behind these posters were carrying out legitimate social research then they would have been ethically obliged to talk to the council or community leaders about what it is they planned to do”, he stated.

Leaving aside the bitter war of words and the way Jonny Darko has gone about it, I for one think that he has a point. When was the last time you really took note of advertising? I bet there are very, very few ads of all the ones you see every single day that register with you on any level at all. It takes superb creativity to attract your attention – something that, ironically, Darko appears to have achieved. At Cirkle, we’re concentrating more and more on engaging and interacting with our clients’ customers, not just pushing information at them. Via social media and the web, people can now choose who and what they want to have in their lives. And we want to be there…

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