Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Unilever accused of brand hypocrisy by consumer coalition

Here's another example of the political correctness police going after a company for what it describes as "hypocrisy" in the name of childrens' advocacy. A consumer group called The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has accused Unilever, the makers of the Dove and Axe brands, of hypocrisy for running conflicting advertising campaigns -- one for Dove that praises women and their natural beauty and one for Axe that the group said "blatantly objectifies and degrades" them.

We're all familiar with these two brands - one very mature, and targeting mature people, the other brand new, and targeting a very, very different audience - young males who are obsessed with - wait for it - young females.

This group launched a letter-writing effort on its web site and demanded that the company pull ads for the Axe line of grooming products for men, which one online pitch says makes "nice girls turn naughty." Unilever shouldn't be commended for Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" while promoting products with a starkly different message, said Susan Linn, the consumer group's director and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Unilever spokeswoman Anita Larson pointed out for Ms.Linn's group and others who may be brand-challenged that the Axe ads were clearly spoofs, while the Dove campaign is serious and "dedicated to making women feel more beautiful." Larson said, "Each brand effort is tailored to reflect the unique interests and needs of its audience."

Pardon me, but - Duh! Are we really living in a society where something like this has to be explained? Have we passed through the Time Tunnel into the mid-80's and no one told me about it? If parents - organized or not - are so concerned about the messages kids are getting from this advertising, then they should just turn off the TV. I'm a big fan of Dove's "real beauty" campaign because of its depiction of real women, as opposed to Barbie Doll women. But in no way should Unilever be condemned for running a campaign for a completely different brand, targeting a completely different consumer group, that does use Barbie-types. The Axe campaign, after all, is targeting 18-24 year-old males, not women 35-plus.

No comments: