Malta doesn’t appreciate advertising the way I do.

Granted, I never turned on the television once or took the time to flip through a Maltese magazine. So I am making this assumption based purely on the billboards that are stuck against the peeling paint of Malta’s buildings. (And I am calling these judgements with very little insight into the Maltese psyche so please forgive me if I say sometimg horribly innacurate.)

They were, the billboards, for the most part terrifically boring. Generic. None were particularly witty, particularly emotive, particularly creative, particularly anything.

I did take a good look as we sped our way along the highway to the airport.

One billboard stuck out for me. Not because it was anything special or on it’s way to winning any awards. But only because, in context, I didnt understand it.

It was part of a series of ads by Vodafone advertising their ‘someone special’ deal which allows free phone calls and SMS’s and whatnot between you and your chosen one. As a campaign, I get it. No problem with the concept. Simple, to the point. Two people with an obviously close bond. Got it.


The one image in the series that sticks out for me, however, are the two young women in the matching white vests. One could argue that perhaps they are sisters or best friends. Their body language, however, suggests an intimacy that lead me on first glance to presume that they were lovers. A homosexual couple.


You’re wondering where I’m going with this? I’m getting there.

Malta is a very religious country. 98% of the population is Roman Catholic and every little village has their own impressive church and their own patron saint. Saints days are celebrated vigorously with fireworks and street decorations. Church bells sound every day from every corner of the island. Catholicism is deeply ingrained in the Maltese community.

It is not news to anyone that the church (sorry, thats The Church) is not a supporter of homosexuality. Quite the opposite. (Allow yourself a little snigger here at my profound understatement. I did).

Which brings me to my point. When 98% of your target market is Roman Catholic, why stick numerous giant billboards around the island, displaying an ambigous image that potentially contradicts, and indeed insults, their religion and their culture (because in Malta religion and culture are one and the same)?

Personal views aside, this does not make marketing sense. Not to me at least, with my six months education and zero experience. Ahem.

Vodafone is a huge, international company. What I am assuming is that this particular ad was created with a much more liberal, Big City target market in mind. London for example. And not properly reassessed before being exported to old school Malta.

But hey, what do I know?

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