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District 9 Advertising Campaign Makes Me Feel Like Jerk

September 4, 2009

SPOILER ALERT: This blog post spoils a lot of the goodies from the movie “District 9” – if you haven’t seen it, please go watch it and then read this post.

The sci-fi movie District 9 had a truly brilliant campaign this summer. See how BC and DC interpreted these ad differently and why we loved the campaign.

ARTICLE – ‘Funny Bench Ad for District 9’ –

DC Perspective ——————-

For me, I fed on a sci-fi fan’s righteous “us vs. them” mentality. It made me think “yeah, we don’t want any aliens in our area.” It fed into sci-fi fan’s long standing mistrust of aliens, always waiting to see if they are friend or foe.

What’s interesting about this campaign is how the advertising campaign takes on new meaning after you see the movie. District 9 explores many themes, but the most prominent is the segregation and the mistreatment of aliens from a foreign planet. The misunderstood aliens are restricted to shanty towns and repressed to create a counter culture of desperate violence and survival.

The message of the ads was simple, keep out aliens. The message is more powerful after viewing the movie in that humans are choosing to keep aliens out. Forcing the aliens to live a substandard life, forcing them to be criminals.

Honestly, I felt like racist scum after seeing the movie. I reflected on my righteous feeling of keeping the unknown separated. Ugh, I felt like a jerk!

What’s important about this campaign and movie is how it frames the civil rights movement for a millennial generation who don’t have first hand experience with segregation and overt racism. One of the great things about this generation is that racism is scarce and often an distant old-fashioned way of thinking. We’ve elected the first black president and also lived through the disastrous results of escalating racism in the LA Riots.

District 9 allows the millennial generation to empathize with Baby Boomers. We can understand the fear and misunderstanding of racism, but also see the heart-wrenching repercussions of segregation. It reminds us how easily we can regress into the disgusting world of segregation. We see how language, culture and appearance can divide and separate.

What’s inspiring about this story is how it remind us that we can make a difference today. There is incredibly horrible segregation and genocide going on right now across the world. Dafur, North Korea , Iran… there are so many.

If this movie does nothing more than inspiring people to do something, than that is success. Visit Amnesty International or the Human Rights Campaign and find something to get passionate about. We can make a difference and we will.

BC Perspective —————-

When I saw the ad campaign, I didn’t think of “us vs. them” but was reminded of the segregationist signs of Jim Crow times. Maybe it’s my perceptions, or because I’m too close (I’m an ad-geek) so I instantly look closer instead of taking an instant reading.

What I loved about the campaign is it framed the movie and the movie framed the campaign. In this era of DVR-skipping commercials this idea had some staying power for me. When I first saw the campaign I got the jist of the movie conflict, and walking out of the movie the events of the past 113 minutes threw the ads into an appropriately darker light that comes with confronting our own history.

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