Thursday, July 28, 2011
9087: Additional Vaginal Examinations.
Adweek reported on the Summer’s Eve decision to yank the talking vajayjay commercials too—contrasting the Advertising Age story with slightly different details, including quotes from Stacie Barnett.
For starters, Adweek claimed all three versions—Black, Latina and White—were pulled. But Ad Age is correct in noting the White one is still yammering away at SummersEve.com as hand/vaginas are wont to do. Many people thought the Black and Latina videos were stereotypical and even racist; however, letting the White vajayjay stick around feels like an act of bias and exclusivity on the part of the advertising agency and client. The scenario is reflective of Madison Avenue, where the minorities get cut while the equally awful Caucasian retains her job.
It appears that Barnett semi-carefully considered her remarks before spouting off this time. Nonetheless, she managed to stumble a bit. “Stereotyping or being offensive was not our intention in any way, shape or form,” said Barnett. “The decision to take the videos down is about acknowledging that there’s backlash here. We want to move beyond that and focus on the greater mission.” There they go again with the “greater mission” mumbo-jumbo. Hey, the Dalai Lama is on a greater mission. The Richards Group and Summer’s Eve are selling pussy purifier.
“We do not think [the videos] are stereotypical, nor did we obviously intend that. However, it’s a subjective point of view,” said Barnett. “There seems to be an important perception out there that they may be, and we would never want to perpetuate that.” At least she’s no longer throwing the “in-house multicultural experts” under the bus. But given the large number of folks who do think the videos are stereotypical, maybe the agency and client should peek at the mirror and examine their potential insensitivity and cultural cluelessness. Before wiping their “wunder down unders” with Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash, of course.
Barnett insisted the agency and client steadfastly stand behind the “Hail to the V” campaign. Then the PR wonk went on the defensive, distinguishing cleansers from douches (gee, what an insightful and informative interview it must have been for Adweek’s Tim Nudd). Yet Barnett seems to have missed a big problem with her douching discussion. Specifically, the advertising has drawn so much negative attention to the brand, consumers are not simply lashing out against the messages—they are attacking the very existence of the products. This is perhaps the worst harm an agency can inflict upon a client.
“We’ve got to rebound from this, and that’s what we’re committed to doing,” declared Barnett. OK, but in the future, please keep your vagina ventriloquism to yourself.
Summer’s Eve Pulls Controversial Talking-Vagina Videos
The online clips had been accused of being racially stereotypical
By Tim Nudd
Summer’s Eve pulled three videos off its website and YouTube on Wednesday following claims that they were racially insensitive.
The videos, part of the feminine-care company’s new “Hail to the V” campaign by The Richards Group in Dallas, featured talking hand-puppets representing women’s vaginas. Two of the spots in particular, featuring black and Hispanic characters, were criticized by some viewers, who complained that the voice work was racially stereotypical.
The black woman is “Pam Grier and Lil’ Kim all wrapped in to one,” wrote one online critic, while the Latina woman opens with the cry, “Ay-yi-yi.”
Under pressure, agency and client stood by the videos last week, with agency founder Stan Richards saying they were meant to be “relatable,” not stereotypical. But on Wednesday, Richards PR executive Stacie Barnett told Adweek that the criticism had begun to overshadow the message and goal of the larger campaign—to educate women about their anatomy and break down taboos in talking about it—and that the online videos had to go.
“Stereotyping or being offensive was not our intention in any way, shape, or form,” said Barnett. “The decision to take the videos down is about acknowledging that there’s backlash here. We want to move beyond that and focus on the greater mission.”
Agency and client had expected the campaign to be provocative, Barnett said, but for its frank talk about female anatomy, not for any racial issues. (And indeed, it was parodied by Stephen Colbert on Monday night, in a segment Barnett said the agency found amusing.) “We do not think they are stereotypical, nor did we obviously intend that. However, it’s a subjective point of view,” said Barnett. “There seems to be an important perception out there that they may be, and we would never want to perpetuate that.”
Barnett said agency and client remain strongly committed to the rest of the campaign, which includes a 60-second anthem spot and an online quiz about female anatomy called ID the V, which Barnett said 16,000 women had completed in the past two weeks.
Much of the criticism of the hand-puppet videos online has been inseparable from criticism about Summer’s Eve products themselves. Some people are simply opposed to the products, which could make them pre-disposed to oppose any marketing of them.
Barnett acknowledged that is a barrier for the brand, but she made a distinction between douching products and the cleansers being advertised in this campaign.
“The product that women and the medical community have questioned whether it is necessary is douching,” she said. “This campaign is marketing the external cleanser, cloth and wash, which is no different than a special hand cream, eye cream, body wash, etc. Now, are these things necessary? No. But cosmetically, as women, we have those choices.”
She added: “The bigger issue is: Do I think the baggage that Summer’s Eve has had related to its heritage of douche is part of this [current criticism]? Absolutely. There are people who may always associate Summer’s Eve only with douche, and therefore look upon it either with mockery or a negative perception. And that’s fine. But there are a lot of women who want these products, right or wrong, necessary or not. And that’s who we want to educate.”
Despite this being its second PR crisis in two years, Barnett said the brand can and will bounce back. “We’ve got to rebound from this, and that’s what we’re committed to doing,” she said.