French 'Dexter' Radio Spot Not For The Faint-Hearted
Have you ever heard a child tell you that he will cut mean people into pieces, put the bits into bags and hide the corpses so that nobody will find them – just like his daddy does? This is how an ad on French radio begins, for the American drama series Dexter and Canal +. It was adapted from what was initially a successful print and outdoors campaign. Dexter, broadcast in France by the TV channel Canal +, features a sexy policeman during the day who is driven by an uncontrollable urge to kill murderers at night.
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Canal+’s intention with this ad may have been to trigger a sarcastic “not enough to shock me” reaction with a target audience that already knows Dexter, via content that mimics the black humour of the show. For those who didn’t know Dexter however, the sarcastic codes and references of the series were missing in the radio spot, and many listeners were genuinely shocked. Justifying death and violence by the fact that the victims are “mean” goes against the French law. A child’s voice talking about reproducing violent acts could contribute to the underlying minimization and trivializing of violence. At least that is what the Court held. The ad is now banned in France. Pushing local cultural limits is often an effective tactic for edgy brands to get attention, but pushing too hard can backfire.