You’ve come a long way baby. Or Not.

Gini Dietrich just did a wonderful post on women and equality in the workplace. All about how both genders need to step up to the professionalism, close those gaps. Then there’s this.

The Crime: Summer’s Eve tells women the way to close that pay gap, get that raise is … to douche.

Summer’s Eve placed this ad in Woman’s Day, entitled “How to Ask for a Raise.” Designed as a “how-to,” the ad’s step-by-step solution included douching.

AdRants took the contrarian view, not caring for the ad or the fallout (see below) but also not liking the double standards of being able to tell women how to dress, what jewelry to wear.. but going below the waist was too taboo. In my comment I admitted to be torn.

• It’s not just that “down there” girlie products give folks the willies.

Stand in a room with mixed audience, the second that ED (as in Erectile Disfunction, as in underperforming man parts) commercial appears, things get quiet. You can count the seconds until someone makes a Viagra joke, too hard to ignore truckload of awkward just walked into the room.

• It’s not that I challenge the advertising of such products.

They sell hygiene and market it as personal confidence, which is well and good. But equating job performance, merit, and fair pay with “good” feminine hygiene is just a boatload of fail.

The Accuser: Blog unleashes the dogs of sarcasm, launches awareness campaign.

Social media will call your crap. The Daily Kos rant on the ad was pretty funny and spot on. My favorite part of the rant, the challenge to Tip 7 of the ad: “Don’t make it personal.” You shouldn’t get personal, but get close enough to the boss that she can smell your undies or vagina.

The post also encouraged those displeased with the ad to let their voices be heard by TPTB at Summer’s Eve and Woman’s Day, and was reblogged by several other media outlets and blogs.

[stextbox id=”info” float=”true” align=”right” width=”210″ color=”000000″ bcolor=”000000″ bgcolor=”eae5f0″ image=”null”]Feminist blog post for another day:

Woman’s Day and their decision to run this ad as is. Will go along with a rant on ABC and FOX denying ads on plus-size ladies’ undergarments because they were too offensive to the sensitive viewers of such shy, conservative programming as Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.[/stextbox]

The Plea: “Our bad.” How Summer’s Eve is dealing with this.


  • Replying to blog posts.
  • Making an apology, correcting the mistake by removing the ad.
  • Including contact info in some of the posts, being open to engagement.


  • Same the blanket statement everywhere. Social media is about engaging with the audience. So the same comment on AdRants, which challenged the Daily Kos piece, doesn’t work for me.
  • Not sure apology is enough. Pulling the ad, saying your sorry because you didn’t “make the connection” is weak. It’s like they are sorry they got caught, not that they stole.
  • The excuse: They didn’t see the offense? Did they look (focus group, panel test)? That is an even bigger problem IMO. Massive marketing fail.

Yes I have issues with marketing things to women sometimes; I did a mini-call out on the laundry detergent ads, not stopping there.

The Verdict: As a woman I found this ad mostly stupid, but still fairly offensive. As a marketer and Solo PR, I found it criminal. Thoughts?

Photo credit: Jezebel and Daily Kos.

Atlanta Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media

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2 thoughts on “You’ve come a long way baby. Or Not.

  1. Great post! I share similar feelings as well. It is appauling to me that they can say that they did not view this ad having any negative effets. And, if that is even true, why does their PR person not tell them NOW to stop using that excuse. Seriously, they do need some good PR pro to work on damage control!
    Pramita Sen recently posted..Are You Engaged To A Brand

    1. Pramita, You’re right.. their damage control efforts need some work. It’s a marketing and PR fail on all sides.

      Not testing the ad or thinking it OK is ridiculous. A quick peak at any of the comments on some of the posts, you’ll see tons of immediate (and funny) negative reactions. A cheap focus group of 200 women could’ve caught this.

      Then repeating the same excuse over and over. One that does not really admit the mistake, just a non-denial denial style of mea culpa. They are responding, taking action.. but it’s time for different tactics. FWIW.

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