Steroid Versus Non-Steroid Bodybuilding and Its Relationship To Advertising That May Not Be Part Of A Conventional Media Schedule.

Bodybuilding must be a fascinating hotbed of ‘issues’, after all, why would anyone want to dedicate such an enormous amount of time to performing dull, repetitive exercises just so that they can look like a condom stuffed with walnuts? (that’s actually Clive James’s simile, although it does make you wonder why Clive stuffs condoms with walnuts).

Psychology aside, the world of bodybuilding does throw up an interesting comparison with advertising.

The ‘sport’ is actually divided into steroid and non-steroid (clean) competitions, i.e. those which allow performance enhancing drugs and those that do not.

And here’s the thing: no one gives a shit about the clean shows. Bodybuilding fans just want to see man at his biggest, veiniest and smallest-bollocked.

It does make sense. If we take a step back and acknowledge that there are millions of things that give people unfair advantages over others (nutrition, training facilities, available teaching etc.) why limit those benefits to the ones that some arbitrary moral code decides is reasonable? Let’s see the human race at its limits. After all, chemicals are simply a recombined mixture of that which is found in nature, so why are they so wrong?

Thanks for bearing with this so far; here’s the ad bit:

Ads are often considered to be scams if they aren’t created under the most difficult conditions possible (two posts ago a commenter dismissed the Museum of Childhood ads for being the result of an easy brief), or if they ran somewhere other than the centre pages of GQ, the ad break in Coronation Street or a poster site on the Cromwell Road.

Unfortunately for these nay-sayers, the ad awards clearly display their rules and the ads that run in parish newspapers, on Granada Men and Motors at 3am or on one street in Droitwich are usually equally valid.

Is that a bad thing? It depends. Do you want to see the best the industry can produce, or do you want to see only what the big brands run as big campaigns? How about the 120″ director’s cut of Balls or Mountain that ran once? The brilliant ‘viral’ that was simply posted on YouTube? The cleaner layout that only ran as an instore poster in the food section of a department store?

In an ideal world all these would be major parts of major campaigns, but if we don’t get to see them we miss out on the best the industry can produce. Under favourable conditions, admittedly, but it’s what helps smaller brands and newer agencies get noticed. They show you what the creators are capable of, and that includes getting the client to run the better version (I think we all know that ain’t as easy as it looks).

Sure, it’s not ideal and maybe it’s not fair in the strictest sense, but if it means we get ads that we can wave at our clients as examples of how good things can be, then it’s kind of like a murderer who invents a cure for cancer. Kind of.