From a recent Wall Street Journal Story:
Last month, the Indian government suspended a television advertisement for Axe men’s deodorant, made by Mumbai-based Hindustan Unilever Ltd. The ad shows a man transform into a walking chocolate figurine after spraying himself with Axe’s Dark Temptation deodorant. As he walks through the city, women throw themselves at him, licking and biting off various parts of his body.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stopped the ad from broadcasting after receiving a complaint from a viewer who found offensive a shot of a woman biting the chocolate man’s bottom.
Yikes! So, what would your PR dept. do if it got a call from the Wall Street Journal to comment about this story. Clearly a ‘no win’ situation in a chaste, decent and easily offended local market.
In a written response, Hindustan Unilever confirmed it will abide by the government’s final decision. However, the company insisted that the ad wasn’t intended to be inappropriate.
“Our consumer research showed the advertisement was humorous and witty in expressing the new fragrance’s promise of being as irresistible as chocolate.”
In one fell swoop the company was innocent, contrite and subservient to the local tastes (and local authorities). Yet despite this genuflective tone, it still managed to deliver a shameless marketing message. Bravo!
Would your PR dept. be so prepared?