Ever since I’ve been a marketing writer, discussions have stemmed from exactly where the line is, in advertising, between creative and too risque.    The recent PETA outburst calls to mind this line.  The New York Times published a picture of a chicken provocatively posed to compliment their crispy chicken skin article in the Food and Dining section.  PETA is outraged.  A PETA spokesman went so far as to call the image necrophilia.   The whole charade, though, is the perfect example of lines in advertising and how they have the potential to benefit business.

Have you heard of the marketing concept called ‘going viral’?  The idea stems from a video, marketing campaign or product that catches on with the masses.   Justin Bieber, the teen pop sensation, was found on YouTube when his mother posted a video. Recently, a phony Match.com video of an MBA student discussing how much she loved cats landed on millions of Facebook pages.  In business, a dentist who wrote Sex and a Healthy Mouth grossed over $2 million in sales a year later.  Based on the popular ebook, her website soared to the top of every Google search for a dentist.  In fashion, it’s the same concept.  A starlet is seen carrying a designer bag and, suddenly, everyone has one.  A picture like the sexy chicken just garnered The New York Times advertising of the caliber that money can’t buy.  Everyone will be visiting their page, reposting the image and writing about it.   Can you imagine how much the businesses who advertised in that section will benefit?

If you have been considering what the line in advertising means to you, you should also consider how you can benefit.  Topics like the sexy chicken picture cannot be predetermined.  However companies that toe the line develop a reputation.  PETA has been called into question as their own advertising often features nude models.   You may toe the line in other ways, as well.  You can take an opposing opinion on a popular topic.  You can use very funny captions in all your advertising.  You can develop a whisper campaign with a simple catch phrase like “we’re sorry” that drives traffic to your website.  In a whisper campaign, people want to know what you’re advertising.  The point is, as these concepts catch on, your business will benefit tremendously.

Advertising, in it’s own right, is meant to evoke emotion.  The New York Times did just that.  Your business will benefit if you can overcome the concept of being just over the line in advertising.    If you can accept PETA being angry, before you know it, your video, picture or advertising piece will be all over the internet.   The free publicity will have your business booming in no time.  Go ahead, toe the advertising line and see what happens.  You just might find sexy chicken is good for you: The New York Times did.