There’s a quarter-page ad on p25 of today’s Guardian which is so astonishing in its meaninglessness as to be actually hilarious. It’s Sam Fox as a hooker leaning into a car. There’s an accompanying explanation in the form of a short article here in which agency TBWA say how brilliant the ad is. No, TBWA, it looks truly like a spoof – it is surely the most misconceived campaign for years. It’s being tweeted about all over the place and no-one seems to understand what it’s about. Maybe that’s the ad folk’s cunning plan – causing viral hilarity – but i really don’t think so.
The ad is for the Albert Kennedy Trust, which apparently helps young gay people. But there are no young gay people either in the ad or on the website. The ad, and the accompanying video on the website makes no coherent link between being young and gay and being a prostitute/old/abused in later life. Literally none at all. The campaign, which has the active support of Sam Fox, Ian McKellen, Sue Perkins, Paul O’Grady and other well-intentioned celebs (they’re in the video), isn’t a spoof but if you check it out I swear you’ll be expecting Chris Morris to put his and up to it later in the week.
I don’t know how much the ad cost, but it’s a quarter page in the Guardian so it won’t be cheap. And I imagine TBWA is quite expensive too. So given that the ad makes no sense at all (are you really more likely to become a prostitute if you’re young and gay without support as opposed to young and heterosexual without support?) what lies behind it?
At face value, the campaign seems to simply be saying ‘give money to gay causes’. That’s laudable and so are the folk who star in it free. But beyond that, what’s it about? Why give money to the Albert Kennedy Trust? How many transgender young people are really in foster care? Are there any?
It looks to me like a little charity has somehow acquired a lot of money to spend on a big campaign and is growing arms and legs upon its original modest, no doubt very valuable, purpose. The effect has been to provide a confusing brief to the ad agency which has in turn produced a dog. I know some folk are tweeting that the trust has helped them, but a campaign of this order could pay a dozen case workers for a year. There’s a bit of charity politics at play here, for sure. But what else. Can anyone explain?