Sarah Talty tells us why she thinks the abortion debate is too serious to be capitalised on.
The first time I saw Carphone Warehouse’s new ad campaign I felt a bit sick. They use the slogan ‘We’re Pro-Choice’. They state they are the only place you get to choose your network, phone and plan. They consider themselves to be the phone retailer with the ‘most choice’. But the use of this slogan in an advertising campaign, rather than on the topic of abortion rights, leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. As well as that it’s not just an inappropriate slogan; they are also teaming that text beside controversial topics such as Donald Trump, transgender issues and non-traditional families.
 
The first ad I saw showed a picture of Donald Trump along with the text: ‘The Donald has his finger: on the pulse, on the button, up his…’ At first I was drawn to the picture of Donald Trump, then I was slightly amused by their berating him. But then I noticed the ‘pro-choice’ reference and I was confused. I was even more confused when I then noticed it was an ad for a phone company. What does choosing your network have to do with the American election? What does a phone company have to do with abortion? Absolutely nothing.
 
Not once viewing the ad or afterwards did I think ‘wow this looks like a great service to use, I really should visit Carphone Warehouse, they have so much to offer.’ Seeing ‘pro-choice’ on an advertising billboard just felt wrong. Especially when they have such controversial topics paired with a controversial slogan. It’s all very messy and to use such different controversial topics in the one advertising campaign is just nonsensical.
 
It feels as if they are merely trying to get a reaction from people, which is really tasteless. Phones have nothing to do with abortion. I think it’s entirely unacceptable for a phone company to create a marketing ploy from the abortion debate. Seeing the ads makes me feel furious because people have such strong views about abortion, and by using a popular debate in Ireland as their advertising campaign, it feels as if they are not taking the issue seriously.
 
It is not just the pro-choice side that is speaking out against the campaign. Both sides are annoyed about it, and rightly so. It honestly makes me feel disgusted that they think it is okay to piggyback onto the Repeal the 8th campaign simply for advertising purposes. It is offensive to both sides to blatantly undermine a serious issue by simply using it to get attention and promote their brand.
 
Despite everything though, it’s hard to believe that this massive advertising campaign could have gone out without one person voicing that it might be offensive. Surely everyone in Carphone Warehouse was aware of the outrage this would cause? I have begun to think they all knew too well exactly what they were doing. Even though people would hate them for it and accuse them of being disrespectful, they would still get a huge amount of attention.
 
Even with all the bad press they recieved, they are still being talking about, whether it is in the media or among friends viewing it on the street. We are talking about them right now and would not be if they had chosen a more traditional advertising slogan. Personally, I would be totally turned off them following the ‘pro-choice’ advertisements. I cannot condone something as
serious as abortion rights, whatever side you’re on, being taken so lightly and used to garner attention. But as offensive as the ad campaign is, maybe Carphone Warehouse simply believe that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.