You may recall this diary from last summer by dhonig that took issue with a Summer's Eve "advertorial" that appeared in Women's Day magazine. In the ad titled "Confidence at Work: How to Ask for a Raise", the first piece of advice for women was to make sure and use a certain brand of feminine hygiene product. This before other bits of advice like "eat a healthy breakfast" and "don't let the conversation get personal".
That ad apparently elicited an apology from brand manager Angela Bryant:
"I would like to first of all apologize if this ad in anyway has offended anyone. We are taking immediate next steps to remove the ad from circulation. We want you to know that Fleet Laboratories and the Summer's Eve brand have the utmost respect for women. While we understand how some may come to an alternative conclusion regarding our recent ad, that was never our intention. Thank you."
Now comes a new ad, this time a commercial which I saw last night in a Regal Cinema prior to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The ad (which doesn't seem to have been posted online yet) looks like a parody you might find on SNL or MadTV.
The spot opens with a woman from ancient times holding up her baby as if offering it to the gods in the sky. The voiceover talks about some unstated thing being precious. (Forgive me for not having the actual script - this is from memory.)
Next, it shows presumably Cleopatra looking down on her subjects (which ties into their recent print ads featuring Cleopatra and Helen of Troy). The narrator speaks of a source of power.
Cut to scenes of Japanese fighters dueling while a woman looks on, knights jousting, men at war. Now the message is that men have fought for this particular thing throughout the ages.
Just when you're wondering what the hell this ad is getting at, they cut to a supermarket aisle with a woman holding a bottle of Summer's Eve douche, with the voice saying you should make sure it smells good. The implication is if a woman's vagina smells bad men won't want to fight for it anymore.
The response (from me as well as others in the audience) was "are you f&%#ing kidding me???" It was certainly memorable - tacky and a bit misogynistic to be sure, but the fact my friends and I were still discussing it after the movie, and the fact that I'm here writing about it the next day, is proof that it had an impact. I don't know if it will have the impact Summer's Eve is hoping for, though. My female friends were thoroughly disgusted by the ad, so I doubt they will be snatching up any Summer's Eve products any time soon. (Never mind the debate over the safety and efficacy of douching.)
The ad seems to be on par with those silly Axe commercials, where you can't be a stud-muffin unless you hose yourself down with some Axe body spray. I have to wonder if the same adolescent ad team were behind this spot as well. Someone forgot to tell them that women are not teenage boys. You would think last year's backlash would have given Summer's Eve pause before greenlighting this ad, but apparently not.