For the uninitiated:

OMG = “Oh my God.”
OMFG = The same, plus a strategically placed F-bomb.

First time I saw these ads, I wanted to write about it here, but I couldn’t seem to find the CW’s justification for taking “OMG,”—a phrase that already puts some people on edge—and plusing it with the “F” for extra shock appeal.

Personally, I grew up in a household where “Oh my gosh” would raise eyebrows because it was so close to “Oh my God,” which takes the Lord’s name in vain. Readers of this blog know I’m no Saint: I used the word “sh**” in a post just last week — and have posted some risque videos. But the fact is, I’m hardwired by my upbringing.

Anyway, I assumed it was to shock the viewer into paying attention—to break through the clutter by slipping something naughty past the FCC. I also assumed it was a calculated move to gain secondary attention from the media—that the CW knew full well this would create the kind of controversy that gets people talking.

As it turns out, I was 2/3 right.

Last week’s Promax/BDA CMO Summit featured a panel that included the CW’s CMO Rick Haskin. He was asked point blank about the ads, and agreed they were meant to break through and was pleased with the additional attention the controversy created.

Knowing only this much, you might want to call the CW and their tactic irresponsible.

But wait, there’s more.

Haskin claims that the CW really listened to their viewers, and discovered that the OMFG phrase was one of the phrases most commonly used to describe the show—that their messages would start, “OMFG…”

Listening to your customers and speaking to them in their own voice makes the conversation more authentic and is indeed Responsible Marketing.

I’m just not sure if this is brilliant marketing—or brilliant spin-doctoring.

But what do you think? Was the CW responsible or not?

Comment below to weigh in.

. . .

Source: Interview on 3 Minute Ad Age.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • I had not seen the TV ads until now but there are posters plastered across the street from me that just say OMFG with one of the sexy images featured in the commercials.

    I see no problem with it, if the show features that much sex some adult language seems to go along with the territory. I have many girlfriends in their 20s and 30s who love the show and yes OMFG might be a phrase they would use when talking about it! I actually think it’s a clever campaign, it is a way to connect with those who are in the know about what the phrase means. Also it definitely has a naughty, subversive feel going on which seems to fit well with the show (I’ve only seen part of the show once but based on those ads I get the jist!)

  • Larry says:

    Personally, I don’t think this is a point of “responsibility”. “Responsibility” in the media is nearly vanished, and the CW is just deploying disruptive advertising for financial gain. The bad news is, given the demographics they’re apparently going for – it will likely work. Using response to test ads to justify the positioning isn’t “responsible”…it’s just plain manipulative. This falls in line with an older post of mine: http://smartblog.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/disruption-in-advertising/

  • Deston says:

    I agree with Larry. I can’t see shoehorning the campaign into an argument over whether or not it’s “responsible.” In poor taste, perhaps. But — and we keep moving this line — given what else is out there, it hardly registers on the outrage scale.

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