Embracing the Not-So Politically Correct

It’s a world where political correctness can stifle your humour and put you into hyper-sensitivity mode. Especially in marketing, where we are constantly trying to come up with new ideas to cut through the noise and drive results, without offending anyone.

That’s why it’s refreshing when I see marketing campaigns with the right kind of humour and attitude – when they push boundaries but in a way that makes you chuckle, not gasp.

A great example of this recently came out from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (yum) in their “Swear like a mother” campaign. Take a look, and just try not to laugh:



Whether you’re a mother, father, or even an aunt or uncle, you’ve probably sworn in front of a kid before. And if you say you haven’t, as Kraft puts it eloquently, you’re likely full of it. This kind of marketing is a tad risky, but connects with consumers across all demographics. This not-so politically correct approach works; as the website shows , Kraft ran out of the customizable boxes that supported the campaign … also likely a good thing.

Another good way that marketing can break traditional barriers is through specific channels within social media … but proceed with caution. It can be a trap if you try to gain brand awareness through sassy social media engagement, such as when Netflix referenced their new controversial series 13 Reasons Why in response to Hulu’s post. When Hulu tweeted out that what they were streaming wasn’t available on Netflix, Netflix responded with “Welcome to your tape”. (In the series, a high-school student kills herself and leaves tapes for students in her class that start with “Welcome to your tape,” ─ which explain the 13 reasons why she felt suicide was the only option.) So in a sense, it could be construed that Netflix was saying to Hulu that what they tweeted translates to a reason someone might kill themselves, which is way past politically incorrect.


But edgy social media use can be done well, as seen many times by Wendy’s Twitter account. The fast food franchise has become infamous for its *saucy* responses that would have made marketers and PR agents cringe just a few years ago. For example, they recently accepted a challenge from a man who asked how many retweets it would take for him to get free nuggets for a year. Wendy’s responded with “18 million”, and now the challenge has gone viral and even gotten the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, check it out:


Wendy’s has not only gotten the attention of their target audience, but has gained celebrity recognition with only a single 11 character tweet. Their entire social media strategy is far from politically correct, but without a doubt it is amusing and working to exponentially increase brand awareness.

As marketers, and as people, we must all try to keep sensitivities in mind (as we have for decades). But every now and then, try to embrace the joy of blunt, abrasive humour so your message can cut through the noise.

Photo credit: makeameme.org