Unilever’s nod to New Jersey backfired as natives and residents of the state expressed their resentment over a prospective billboard ad campaign for the company’s new deodorant product. Dove’s Nutrition Moisture deodorant ad featured an image of a young Caucasian woman with her arm raised and a caption that advised New Jersey residents to be flattered that their hometown is called “The Armpit of America”. The billboard was previewed on Thursday and was scheduled to launch in July.
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 ad campaign.
Dove’s spokesperson took to their Facebook page to address the consumers’ hostile reactions. The message said that Dove deodorant had no intentions of upsetting the residents of New Jersey, and that they will neither be publishing nor displaying the advertisement.
In defense of the controversial 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 commercial entitled “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.
Dove has made headlines over the past few years for its ads that depict unorthodox perceptions of beauty. One such project was called The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which was launched in September 2004. Instead of using professional models, it featured images of regular women taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Here's a less offensive Dove "Armpit" ad
Image via YouTube