Unilever announced it will not go forward with a billboard that was scheduled to go live in July. Some residents of the Garden State think a planned billboard for Dove deodorant was in bad taste.
Dove’s Nutrition Moisture deodorant ad featured an image of a young woman with her arm raised and the caption: “Dear New Jersey, when people call you ‘The Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove.”
According to the New Jersey Journal, dozens of consumers from the Garden State posted disgruntled comments on Dove’s Facebook page, some even promising to boycott the brand. Unilever released an official statement after the weekend saying that it will no longer proceed with the campaign.
The ad was supposed to promote a new line of deodorant, The New York Times reported. Matthew McCarthy, the senior marketing director of deodorants at the company, told The Times that the message was to show that armpits are not a ‘bad thing.’
In defense of the ad, Unilever senior marketing director for antiperspirants and deodorants Matthew McCarthy told The New York Times that the message intended to mitigate the negative image of armpits. He also apologized on behalf of the company for any offense and misunderstanding caused by the message.
Ogilvy & Mather, the agency behind Dove’s latest marketing efforts, kicked off the campaign with a TV spot, “An Open Letter to the Armpit”, which was launched in January. Unilever is said to be donating the billboard space to a still-unnamed charity, said Fox News.
RBR-TVBR observation: While social media can hurt a company tremendously, in this case it helped Dove. They were smart enough to preview the ad before going live with it on billboards. Facebook posts saved face for Dove in time, just from the negative comments. New Jersey residents have enough to deal with after Superstorm Sandy. Being reminded of an old, negative connotation about their state is bad timing and in bad taste.