The Forbidden Fruit: How Do Companies Sell Hazardous Products?

Interview with a fellow communication expert

In Extras on March 13, 2011 at 18:04

An interview with Mieke van Rooijen, communication student in  Amsterdam.

As a young & dynamic team, we are constantly looking for improvement and innovation. However, as our team consists of 5 members, our ideas of “improvement and innovation” might be biased and short-sighted with only our own opinions. No worries though!

We have found a way to work around our own team-bias and to include opinions of the public, media professionals and anyone interested (or not!) in our project. Our first interview will be with Mieke van Rooijen – a third year bachelor student at the University of Amsterdam, studying Communication sciences. After explaining our idea to Mieke of “analyzing advertising of dangerous products to help other media professionals (specifically those working in/with advertising agencies) understand how dangerous products can be sold” we asked our first question:

WHA: What do you think of this idea?
M: That’s an interesting angle on advertising! Never thought about it like that before. I mean, we see & hear a lot of ads, but we don’t really stop to think about the whole process that’s behind it. Especially with “risky products”. Somewhere there’s a whole team of advertisers breaking their necks to create the next big ad for a King Deal Whopper menu at Burger King.

WHA: Do you think that there are any strengths or weaknesses?
M: Well, who are the media professionals? I guess you’re aiming at advertisers, but wouldn’t they already know about the ins and outs of “dangerous ads”? I mean, it is their job..

WHA: That’s true, but we think that a lot of starter media professionals and even the young savvy public itself is looking for such information to educate themselves. After all, we live in the information age and people hardly seem to trust “the system” or large corporations and this is how [media savvy] people can protect themselves. About the media professionals, that’s a tricky line of thought indeed. We should probably think it through, but a website with another aim & point of view on advertising can’t hurt the media people right?


WHA: So, as we were saying… Do you think that there is demand for advertising analysis such as what we do? Do you think that there’s a gap in the market for what we do?
M: As I already pointed out, I think that media professionals, and especially those who work in advertising themselves, are already in-the-know of such things. Like, how to sell a Big Mac to a vegetarian. In the end that’s their job and they are the ones who create those “dangerous ads”. However, I also think that they look to what other companies do and what the common people say and think about those and even their own ads & products. I think that what you do here, can very much influence the work process of media professionals in a way.

WHA: Earlier on I send you the link of our website, what do you think of its lay-out and content?
M: At first it looks really nice and clean-cut, but when you stare to long at the page you realize that the Title and the Tagline above the title are out of sync and actually really messy. I would advise you to drop the tagline because it sort of makes the page look less professional. Also the “widget” area at the bottom of the page is a bit messy and mixed up with the “subscribe button” in the middle of two other widgets. You should look into that too. But furthermore it looks pretty good and professional.

WHA: How flattering! Well, I took a note of it and I’ll see what we can do [laughter]. Do you have any ideas on how we could reach more people/readers/media professionals?
M: Pff…. well honestly, I heard you commented on websites such as AdWeek? You should maybe look into their “Links” and just keep posting comments on websites that have to do with advertising. I’m not a Twitterer so I can’t really advice you on that one, but I saw that you’re a hardcore Twitterer so I guess that shouldn’t be a problem [laughter].

WHA: Thank you for your time and I, in the name of the entire WeHazAds team, wish you good luck with your internship and final thesis!


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