The Advertising Misdirect

The Advertising Misdirect

We often see it used in TV advertising but very rarely do we hear it on the airwaves. It’s a tool favoured by a lot of creatives – the advertising misdirect. With this style of advertising, we lead the audience to follow a particular story before revealing a completely different message at the end.

The latest radio advert from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is a perfect example. The RSA are known for their shocking and impactful TV campaigns. Leaving viewers uncomfortable and sometimes shook up, the ads are designed to change our driving behaviour behind the wheel.

‘Saliva’ tells the story of John Moore. Our voice-over explains that we can tell a lot from John’s saliva. With just one small sample, we can discover everything from his diet, health and family heritage.

The approach and tone at the very start is informal and light. It feels as though the ad is aimed at an older audience who might sit down and watch an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

Then without any warning, the tone completely changes and the hard-hitting message relating to driving on drugs is revealed. It’s a payoff that works and a format that uses the element of surprise successfully to convey a very strong message.

Credit to the copywriting team. It is a carefully written script and holds out attention for the full 30 seconds. A perfect example of a well-crafted misdirect.

This is John Moore’s saliva. With it, we can tell a lot about him. We know he ate fish last week. We know that he has a slighter higher risk of diabetes. We can tell who his parents are. We know he’s not descended from Brian Boru.
And we can tell his life’s about to get turned upside down.
The Gardaí are testing the saliva of motorists for the presence of drugs. If you are driving on drugs, you will get caught. There’s no hiding drug driving. From An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority.


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