Depending on your view, Bradley Manning is either a patriot or a traitor for his alleged role in supplying Wikileaks with a bunch of classified documents.
Regardless of the political view, Adland is Adland. So this is interesting as ad news. See, Short Form Blog posted this today. It's an ad in support of Bradley Manning with the title "Spotted in DC Today," although it doesn't say where exactly it was spotted. Somewhere in D.C., maybe.
As an ad, it's pretty bad. No way around it. Layout nightmare, the old "definition," headline, the 75+ words of copy, the schizophrenic font sizes, the giant website address, the lack of strong conceptual big idea, and the inception style ad-within-an-ad at the bottom for Epic Step.
Wait. What's Epic Step? Epic Step. . They're apparently a kind of cause marketing Kickstarter for billboards. Neat idea.
For the Manning page on Epic Step, the "about" section describes this particular project as being run by the Bradley Manning Support Network.. They reached their goal of $14,800 for the media buy back in April.
In the comments (scraped and added from their Facebook site) the curator of the page even mentioned he did the right thing and paid $600 to use the Reuters photo of Manning in the ad.
Epic Step seems like its gives the option of setting up a voting system on multiple ads. The winning ad in question received 11,711 votes, compared to another (seen above) with only 200. Hm. Either way it's a pity. The other one is much better designed. Even if it's still borrowing heavily from everyone's favorite oppression fighting symbol, Che.
Note too, that the Facebook comments on the page aren't getting into a political back and forth. Rather, they're giving constructive criticisms on the ads. To wit:
I am worried that the ad texts assume his "guilt."
Another says (assume I'm adding sic, where it's needed): I really think that billboard should specify something in the effect that Bradley Manning did what he sworn to do and that was to protect his country, therefor he keep his promise to his country and to the military.
It's a shame the constructive criticism was ignored. Not that it would have made the layouts or copy better, but these people are offering up some valuable points which should have been at least considered. And these are points coming from people who are most likely not working in advertising.
While I'm sure the person who created the ad isn't worried about making something award winning so much as getting the word out, it still doesn't excuse the fact the ad could have been way more effective if only the person had listened.
And that's a valuable lesson. It never hurts to listen. And this is true whether you're an ad student, a creative director or just someone with a cause. Working in a vacuum is never a good idea.