Imagine flicking through a magazine and your eye focuses on an ad that at first visually looks like most ads- the male model checking out the woman in the sultry sexy way that men in ads often do.
However this time the ad copy is suggesting you spike your best friend’s eggnog while they are not looking!
It’s at this point you hear that screeching sound brakes make when you hit them and the car skids to a halt. What were the marketing, PR team at Bloomingdale's thinking when they created and approved this ad?
This ad ran just before Christmas last year and caused a furor on social media sites across the world.
- Firstly if you look at your best friend in that way - you are not best friends. The guy in the ad is looking at her in a very creepy way, not the way my best friend would look at me.
- Secondly - eggnog already has alcohol so why would you spike it?
- Thirdly - the fact it does have alcohol and they are suggesting the best friend spike her drink indicates something more sinister such as date rape.
- And lastly spiking drinks is illegal.
For a store with such high brand equity to place an ad such as this in the public domain in print is flabbergasting stupid.
But they have not been the only ones with such stupidity.
Bud Light earlier last year had to issue an apology after introducing their slogan - "The perfect beer for removing "No" from your vocabulary for the night." Did the marketing team not think about the issues surrounding a slogan such as this and what this was promoting?
Dolce and Gabbana put out an ad which showed a female model being held down by a shirtless man while other men looked on. For many this depicted gang rape and eventuated in the ad being banned in several countries. When you look at this ad, there is nothing about it that entices me to buy their brand and I cannot understand how any marketing team, leave alone a management team thought that this imagery was ok.
As a CEO I support placing advertising in the market place that can be risky or controversial however I would never approve anything that would be offensive to the consumers we are marketing to. You don't want to issue apologies or have marketing that will have a negative impact on your brand equity.
I believe that your marketing has to be relevant to the market place and your demographics. Why put marketing in the market place that 50% of the population will disconnect from.
At a time when violence against women is at an all-time high, there is discussion globally on gender equality and diversity surely it should be the role of iconic brands such as these to ensure their marketing campaigns are respectful and generate positive discussion and debate.
It seems that many marketing teams have perhaps not connected with what discussions are being had globally.
The he for she campaign, Malala recently being named as the Nobel peace prize recipient, the new PM in Canada making a deliberate decision to have 50% of his cabinet as women - why - because it was 2015!
Global change on the issue of violence against women, gender equality and diversity in the workplace that represents our communities are issues that requires leaders in government and private corporate sector to take the lead on.
It also takes CEOs of iconic brands to ensure their marketing is relevant to what is occurring in their markets globally. For far too many years we have seen ads where women are the sexual center piece, play things . Surely we are now mature enough and bold enough to move away from this.
However this recent piece suggests we still have a way to go.