Ad Bites: Toward a Theory of Ironic Advertising

Ekin Pehlivan and Pierre Berthon

Bentley University

Leyland Pitt

Simon Fraser University

INTRODUCTION

Before the presidential elections of 2008, a campaign that featured prominent television and film celebrities was launched on YouTube. It was designed to promote voting among Internet-literate Americans. Rather than encouraging people to vote, however, the celebrities did the opposite: they asked viewers not to vote! The advertisement featured a number of actors (Amy Adams, will.i.am, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Halle Berry, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Connolly, Courteney Cox, Ellen DeGeneres, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Jonah Hill, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Kiedis, Ashton Kutcher, Adam Levine, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Tobey Maguire, Demi Moore, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Ethan Suplee, Kyra Sedgwick, Michelle Trachtenberg, Usher, and Forest Whitaker), each repeating a “Don’t Vote” message for close to five minutes.