This week, an observant Los Angeles Times reporter, Alana Semuels, called me to discuss an announcement by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, demanding that Unilever pull its ads for Axe, citing the company’s hypocrisy and degradation of women.

At issue is the way Unilever’s Dove brand attacks advertising that promotes artificial images of women – precisely the kind of imagery seen in advertising for Axe.

According to CCFC’s director and co-founder, Dr. Susan Linn, “Even as Unilever basks in praise for its Dove Real Beauty campaign, they are profiting from Axe marketing that blatantly objectifies and degrades young women.”

This raises the question of whether its wise for a large company like Unilever, with a varied portfolio of brands, to promote conflicting points of view. After all, the Dove campaign is a positive step, isn’t it?

Many of you know I sounded out on this subject last year. This week, in addition my quote in the LA Times article, I posted this comment on the Advertising Age blog discussing Bob Garfield’s similar article:

It’s nice to see positive imagery in advertising, but it’s a lot nicer when it’s authentic, not just a cynical corporate trick to sell soap. Dove is a product and products don’t have beliefs or values. Companies have values, so why don’t we ask Unilever what they think?

Unilever, if you’re listening, what’s it going to be? Treat women like real people, or sex slaves? Pick one.

Bob Garfield probably put it better when he said:

“A worthy cause, a brilliant strategy, a flawless video. It all amounts to something very close to perfection. So, yes, absolutely, four stars…Damn, if it just weren’t for the nagging hypocrisy of it all.”

Do you have an opinion about this? Please comment.

LA Times Article

Advertising Age Article