A blog by Campbell Consulting Group, based in Bend, Oregon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Social Media Megaphone

If you’re a woman walking around the streets of 2011, you’ve probably got an opinion about beauty and the media—you might love the catwalk and don’t care about the measurements of the models. Or the sight of one more scantily clad woman bouncing across an ad might make your lip curl.

Either way, you can shout your opinions directly into the ear of the Mad Men through social media. And I just love that. I still get a kick out of it.

Of course, like everyone else on the blogosphere, I’m getting around to the notorious Chapstick ad. I don’t know the ratio of dude vs. chick consumers of Chapstick, but I’d wager their target audience is women. And yet, one of those Ad Men (or Women) decide to stick a girl’s rear end center stage on in an ad, à la American Apparel. It’s a tired old trick.

And yet for some reason, this ad hit a nerve, and the firestorm hit Facebook.

I cruised past the Chapstick Facebook page (for all the bad publicity of both the ad itself and criticism about their lukewarm apology, I’m sure their Facebook hits have been going through the roof) and found their new ad.

Lol, when was the last time you saw an ad that featured a man showing more skin than the lady? The comments on this post focused on the question posed (sand or snow) and few commented on their dress. However, one is worth noting: “I was feeling disgruntled the other day at the comment deletions and what I felt was an inadequate response to the concerns of so many consumers. But I feel that you have redeemed yourself now and will resume buying your product. This ad is great... it is directly relevant to the product and uses an image of a woman that is empowering. I'd be psyched for my daughters to see it. Tx!”

Psyched for my daughter to see it? Yes, we’re entering an age where sexist advertising might become retro. A thing of the past. I’m not talking about the narrow definitions of modern day beauty—beauty’s appeal has always been its fleetingness, the rarity of perfection—I don’t see that changing. But consumers have become too savvy for blatant sexist advertising to work anymore. And parents, those people who purchase products for their tweens and teens—the super-consumers of society—have become aware of the harmfulness of sexist advertising.

Does the vocal few truly represent the majority? Probably not. Do advertisers and marketers need to take this as a warning as they think to themselves, better Chapstick than me? Definitely.