Ad Campaigns That Have Not Impressed Their Audience

Recently,high-street chain H&M released an ad featuring a black child wearing ahoodie that said ‘Coolest monkey in the jungle’ as part of launching its latestrange of children’s clothing.


The ad wascriticised on social media and the retailer apologised and removed the photographfrom its website whilst keeping two similar designs that are modelled by whitechildren. One bears the words “Mangrove jungle” and “Official survival expert”;the other has outlines of various animals including giraffes and tigers. 




Aspokeswoman for the retailer said: “This image has now been removed from allH&M channels and we apologise to anyone this may have offended.”


The Swedish low-cost fashion brand announced onFacebook that the group's 'commitment to addressing diversity and inclusivenessis genuine' and that it had therefore chosen to 'appoint a global leader, inthis area, to drive our work forward'.


Rappers TheWeeknd and G-Eazy both cut ties with H&M and in South Africa, there wereprotests at some H&M stores. It was also revealed that the parents of theyoung boy at the centre of the controversy have had to move from their home inSweden over fears for their safety - and the safety of their son.


This hasn’tbeen the first time that an ad has been perceived as offensive to its audience.We’ve taken a look at some other ads that have certainly not impressed theiraudience.



Bloomingdale’s – daterape




In November2015, a Bloomingdale’s advert came under fire as it seemingly promoted festivedate rape.


The popularAmerican department store’s ad featured the tagline “Spike your best friend’segg nog when they’re not looking” which was presumably meant to be a ‘fun’ adfor the holidays. But social media users voiced their opinions that they feltit encouraged date rape.


The ad,which appeared in the stores holiday catalogue, ended up being seen as creepyand offensive and led to an apology from Bloomingdale’s


Aspokesperson said: “In reflection of recent feedback, the copy we used in ourrecent catalogue was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerelyapologises for this error in judgment.”


Bloomingdale’salso issued a public apology via its Twitter account. “We heard your feedbackabout our catalog copy, which was inappropriate and in poor taste.Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes,” the department store tweeted.



The Co-op – Eastersexism  



Last Easterhigh-street supermarket chain The Co-op was accused of "outrageoussexism" with one of its adverts. The tagline which appeared in nationalnewspapers said: "Be a good egg. Treat your daughter for doing the washingup."


This was toadvertise Fairtrade eggs, and one of the Fairtrade principles is genderequality. The Co-op issued an apology and said that the advert was one of anumber of adverts which ran over that weekend as part of its overall Good Eggcampaign.


In responseto the criticism, the wording in the advert was changed so that it does notreference washing dishes.


The Pepsi KendallJenner advert




In 2017,Pepsi featured Kendall Jenner in an advert in the hope of depicting the brandas a cultural unifying force. The reality star and model left her photo shootin the ad to join a heavily policed demonstration. She defuses the tension bywalking to the police line and handing an officer a can of Pepsi, prompting cheers.


By handingthe officer the drink, Kendall stops the protests, which has left a bad tastein audiences around the world, as it seemingly trivialised recent streetprotests in the US.  


It wasquickly pointed out by Twitter users that the ad appropriated imagery fromsocial justice movements like Black Lives Matter, without outlining its ownreal-world issues to tackle, making the entire effort look cynical.


Pepsimistook social justice movements, for opportunities to sell its drink and wenton to apologise for the ad and said that it did not intend to make light ofserious issues. The ad was withdrawn from YouTube within 24 hours


Pepsi saidit was "trying to project a global message of unity, peace andunderstanding… Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise."


“We did notintend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content andhalting any further rollout."


It oftenseems to be a risky move when politics is used to sell a brand, with 58% ofconsumers surveyed for a study by 4A’s saying they disliked brands, who getpolitical in their marketing.


Nivea – ‘White ispurity’ campaign



In March2017, a deodorant advert for German skincare brand Nivea was branded racist asit featured the tagline 'white is purity'. The advert for its invisibledeodorant range was posted on the firm's Facebook page, geographically aimed atits followers in the Middle East.


Many socialmedia users complained the post was racist and some linked it to the alt-rightwith many alt-right users sharing the post. The post was deleted by Nivea who acceptedthe post was "misleading" and apologised.


Aspokesperson for Nivea's owners Beiersdorf said: "We are deeply sorry toanyone who may take offence to this specific post. After realising that thepost is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.


"Diversityand equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea: the brand representsdiversity, tolerance, and equal opportunity.”


This isn’tthe first time that Nivea has been accused of racism. In 2011, the brandreleased an ad that featured a black man removing his afro and beard accompaniedby the caption “Look Like You Give a Damn ... Re-Civilize Yourself.” Niveasubsequently ended that campaign saying that it was never its “intention tooffend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry.”


Nivea alsosaid then that: “diversity and equal opportunity [are] crucial values of ourcompany.”


It seems Nivea didn’t learn its lesson from2011!


Dove – Frequentlygetting it wrong



Similarly, skin care brand Dove also came under fire for racialconnotations in an ad in 2017. The ad, which showed a black woman turning into a white womanafter using Dove body lotion, was immediately criticised on social media.

The full advertshowed a white woman taking off her top, where she changed into a Nigerianwoman, however, people pointed out that numerous racist adverts in the pasthave sold soap by saying it can turn black skin white, and that Dove shouldhave realised people would call it out. Within days, the hashtag #BoycottDovewas spreading on Twitter.

Dove said in astatement that: “The short video was intended to convey that Dove body wash isfor every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong.”

Lola Ogunyemi, theNigerian woman in the ad, shared her opinion in The Guardian. Lola said: “Having the opportunityto represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand felt like the perfectway for me to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and moreimportantly, we are valued.”

But she woke up tothe criticism the ad received. Lola says she can see how the snapshots thatcirculated the web have been misinterpreted, considering that Dove has faced abacklash in the past for the exact same issue. She believes there is a lack oftrust here, and feels the public was justified in their initial outrage.

She said that shecan also see that a lot has been left out. The narrative has been writtenwithout giving consumers context on which to base an informed opinion. Lolasays her experience with Dove was a positive one.


It’s vitalto think about the message behind your ad, and the possible connotations itcould have around the world. Bad press can halt sales and damage a brandsreputation and should be avoided where possible.


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