Warning!!! These ads will shock you.

Challenged with a cluttered marketplace, bad marketers (like the ones behind this ad for Fluid Hair Salon in Edmonton), shamefully take a marketing short cut by just shocking consumers to achieve breakthrough.

Am I offended? Absolutely.
But I’m offended as a marketer.

First of all, I totally can appreciate that this ad offends some people. Victims of domestic abuse don’t need to face a depiction of their horror blatantly used to help sell a $40 perm. Still, I don’t think it gets us beyond a “Yes it is / No it isn’t” debate. In the grand scheme of things, we have bigger fish to fry but if you want to complain or boycott or write a letter, go ahead.

Does this ad stand out? Yup. You bet.
You know what else would get them noticed? Repeatedly kicking a puppy in front of the salon. If it’s all about awareness then why not go all the way?

The point is, it’s NOT about standing out.

It should be about building a relevant, genuine, compelling and valuable brand and THEN communicating it in a unique way. Their campaign, “Look good in all you do” lacks real consumer insight and fails to communicate a clear product benefit or differentiation. It’s just lazy marketing in the same way that Dane Cook is lazy stand up comedy. Sure, it gets your attention but after the shock, you’re left realizing there’s not much substance behind it.

Funny enough, they do have some interesting things to say beyond domestic abuse. Apparently, they recycle hair for the production of oil spill mats. That’s kinda cool. And not something I’ve ever heard of before. Why not lead with that?

Benetton it’s not.
Remember this campaign?

Benetton created controversy with their advertising from the early 90’s. The difference between this stellar work and Fluid’s campaign is simple: Benetton stood for something positive. They believed in uniting colours. So while a photo of a white man kissing a black woman may have shocked some, it shouldn’t have. Their progressive social stance was clear and those who disagreed were able to make an appropriate and informed consumer choice.

I’m still not sure what Fluid believes in. Feminine strength in the face of adversity? Superficial composure in the face of adversity? Edgy communications for an edgy product?
After reading all the reports, blog posts, responses and media articles relating to this issue, here’s my final thought on this subject:  I don’t think Fluid owner Sarah Cameron or her “creative consultant” Tiffany Jackson are horrible people.

They’re just horrible marketers.

Even in managing the response, it’s clear that they’re in over their heads. Sarah needs to turn to a real professional in Edmonton (I can provide some names) before this gets even worse.
Remember: A blunder like this can taint you but your response to it will define you.

The campaign states that you should “Look good in all you do”. It’s time for Fluid to follow their own advice.

6 Comments

  1. VOICES: Warning!!! These ads will shock you. | The Ad Buzz
  1. Connie

    They have given me nothing to think about with this ad. Why would I use their services? who are they? other than than someone with bad taste? and would I really trust someone who is portraying such an offensive image to improve MY image? I am no marketing guru but they have done nothing with this ad but to ensure that I go to the one across the street.

  2. Jack

    Thanks, Ron, for reminding me about the wonderful photography featured in those Benetton ads.

  3. Great closing line, “Your campaign states that people should “Look good in all you do”. It’s time for Fluid to follow the advice.”

    -Jerry

  4. Ron

    @Connie – the nice thing about Canada is that’s your choice and there’s no greater democracy than the power of consumer choice.

    @Jack – You’re right. The photography was wonderful. I kind of reminded myself about it, too.

    @Jerry – Thanks!

  5. Jim Clayton

    Well, they’ve responded to it. And made it worse.

    http://fluidhair.ca/?p=659

    A highlight from Tiffany: she goes after “…select reporters and journalists who in my opinion use a platform that they were blessed with to gain ratings and make more money…” That’s right, the media receive their salaried positions through blessings, and then defile the honour by trying to up their viewership.

    And in a bonus personal response, we hear from Tiffany’s mother:
    “…all your “public” comments and opinions are just as abusive and hurtful as any ‘domestic violence’.”

    Seriously, WTF? Your mom weighs in with *that* and you still publish it? Good god.

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