Saturday, September 17, 2011

Domestic Violence in Advertising: When A Company Goes Too Far

*I would first off like to note my disclaimer here, as a marketing professional I too do not condone domestic violence in advertising, or in any situation for that matter.
I find this advertising campaign to be interesting for me as it brings up three different angles of discussion: 1) any press is good press, 2) domestic violence in advertising, and 3) the issue of negative feedback for social media sites.
Before I get into my thoughts on this advertising campaign, here is the advertisement

A few weeks ago an Edmonton hair salon, Fluid Hair, released a cutting edge advertising campaign which began setting the internet abuzz. The new ad campaign has been noted as glorifying domestic violence in an effort to turn a profit.
Their recent ad campaign depicts a well-dressed women sporting a black eye while a handsome man stands behind her with a necklace. The ad copy itself reads “look good in all you do.”
With the release of this campaign, some battered women’s groups have stepped up calling the campaign inappropriate. Others have taken the social media route, commenting on the company’s Facebook fan page asking people to boycott the business altogether.
Owner, Sarah Cameron, says she is shocked by the outrage the ad has sparked and insists they had no intention of encouraging domestic violence. Cameron, in her own defence, notes the ads purpose was to spark discussion about the strength of women in difficult situations. She notes the intentions of the advertisement was to depict a strong women, even though she is battered she seems to be turning down the necklace and showing a strong side, with her back towards her man.
The ad was originally posted over a year ago, with no media attention. Cameron is shocked with the amount of coverage the company is receiving this round and noted that she is actually pleased the campaign is bringing attention to domestic violence. But many media outlets have noted that the campaign isn`t helping anyone, expect the salons bottom line.
The theory, any press is good press, has been coined to describe situations where bad behaviour by people involved with an organization or brand has actually resulted in positive results, due to the fame and press coverage accrued by such events.
One example would be the Australian Tourism Board’s So where the bloody hell are you?” advertising campaign that was initially banned in the UK, but the amount of  publicity this generated resulted in the official website for the campaign being swamped with request to see the banned ad.
The statement above addresses this situation in a perfect manner. If Fluid Hair Salon experiences a surge of new bookings due to this ad campaign, than yes the theory is correct and their ad campaign has done its job. Unfortunately in real life, people and companies often profit off of others misfortunes.
This story was not only picked up and published by many different media outlets in the Edmonton area, but has also gone international. From a PR perspective this is big news for a small business, but in this case any press isn’t always good press.
One comment I found interesting to me:

“As a woman, a hairstylist and also the woman on the couch, I won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole,” wrote Jodi Holmes-Przywara. “But, what I will say is for as many people that dislike the ad there as just as many that will go to the salon because of them. Its marketing, good or bad.”


  1. Our agency which specializes in retail advertising
    has always strived to market products and services promoting the values of people and business without offending others. Why use shocking images that play up on such a sensitive subject that many women have to deal with daily basis just to sell products. I think that one can still sell products without offending people.

  2. An important part of marketing is to demonstrate that companies are socially responsible. One of the means of perpetuating domestic violence is keeping it hidden, a taboo to speak about. Domestic violence is widespread in Canada and this campaign was successful in that it has generated discussion and created greater awareness, for me this company is socially responsible.