December 8, 2023

Using the Internet as a thermometer to measure how audiences respond to their advertising campaigns, some brands are making highly polemical ads and keeping consumers wondering whether their messages constitute just a marketing plan or if the companies are really dedicated to stand up for controversial causes.

Last year, it was Nike. Recently, Gillette released a video about toxic masculinity and the audience quickly became divided between the people who hated it and the ones who loved it. The ad got more than 26 million views on YouTube and different reactions.

According to David Soberman, Canadian national chair of strategic marketing at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, brands always try to create appealing images because feeling and emotion can make a difference in the end.

“Good marketing always provokes and the Gillette ad does that, which is a good thing,” said Soberman. “If you don’t provoke, you melt into the landscape and nobody remembers you.”

The chief financial officer at Procter & Gamble, Jon Moeller, told the Independent UK that the sales remained unchanged since the ad came out on Jan. 13.

Another brand that got recently involved in controversy is Avon. The company released images to promote one of their products that included quotes such as, “Dimples are cute on your face, not on your thighs,” which didn’t please their audience.

The actress Jameela Jamil, star of Good Place, called Avon out on Twitter, which started a huge movement to take the ads down.

The company that later apologized for its marketing mistake and removed all the ads. It got a lot of complaints, especially on Twitter. While some women suggested boycotting the brand, a lot of them fought the ad by empowering themselves even more.

Charlotte Claber, who tweeted that no body and no company would change her mind about herself, said she was shocked when she saw the ad.

“As a brand that I’d seen support and build women up, I saw this is a massive step backwards for their progression! It was actually quite hurtful,” commented Claber.

Whether it is just a marketing strategy or not, brands are joining (or enraging) a lot of causes lately and that certainly makes them gain more traction from society, 0nline above all.

“I don’t think the emotion is sympathy. It more a warmness that people feel towards the brand,” said Soberman.

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