Crass Marketing Campaigns: Do They Work?

This isn’t a rhetorical question. i truly want to know!

Do crass, “low brow” marketing campaigns like this real piece of… umm… work 😉 from Domainz (the official -and at one time, only – domain registry for New Zealand and their .nz domain space) actually bring in respectable response rates despite unrespectable theme, copy, or visuals?

The following is a screenshot of the email campaign piece that landed in my inbox last month (it was an animated image; the screenshot shows what was the final frame):

Giving tough times the Finger with Pay-Per-Click

There was matching messaging on their website too. Thankfuly this brain-dead campaign appears to have been put to rest.

I was surprised the email even made it into my inbox. With a Subject line of “Give Tough Times the Finger” you’d think it would have gotten reported by recipients to SpamCop as spam more than a few times.

In my opinion, marketers CAN go too far. Some even get into the realm of truly warped and downright offensive, like this disturbing example, also from New Zealand. When marketers offend our sensibilities we (the targeted recipients) shut down. It can even alienate us from their brand. I know I (a customer) lost a little bit of respect for Domainz because of this campaign. Not enough to move my business from them (i.e. transfer my .nz domains to another registrar). But It’s like they made a withdrawal from their brand equity “bank account”, with me. (I’m borrowing from Stephen Covey’s metaphor of the “emotional bank account”).

So what do you think? Should marketers who practice “crass marketing” deserve an “Attaboy!” or a smack? Or a demotion?