I don’t usually go out of my way to comment on local advertising due to the close-knit nature of the advertising community in Edmonton. But I was, to say the least, compelled to comment on the ad I saw come out of Fluid Hair Salon, promoting their “Look Good in All You Do” campaign.
Firstly and most importantly, advertising, or the act of advertising, is to solely promote a business, product, or concept. Primarily, advertising is meant to change our minds; change our perceptions; change what we think of a product or service enough to buy it; change us enough to use the service, try the service; change us enough to pay into the brand.
As Creative Director at DONOVAN, I can say I know advertising. More and more evidence comes out every year telling us that shock laced with anger, abuse, violence, racism, and sexism, doesn’t work to promote commercial companies. (Shock through humor does work, however.)
In fact, because of the very inclusive and socially-minded generation we find ourselves in, this kind of “artistic expression,” as Fluid has called it, is no longer acceptable — despite what their press release has tried to defend.
No, this is not artistic expression. No, this is not a smart comment on “satirical,” real-life situations. No, this is not “igniting” any kind of debate. It is simply glamourizing spousal abuse while overlooking the seriousness of the issue, all in the name of getting people in the door. To make M-O-N-E-Y. This is an advertisement. Simple. It was paid for by Fluid to sell their services and to profit from it.
This is not a discussion of Fluid’s freedom of speech as their press release indicates. Fluid is a company. And yes, Fluid, you do have the “right” to freedom of speech and to say and do what you want, we all do. But is it good business? I’m not in the business of advising my clients to glamourize a very serious issue that plagues, and now, will alienate your entire target market: women.
Advertisements, when done right, reflect your business morals and values. They reflect what your company stands for; they reflect what you want to align yourself with in terms of ideas and perception so you can feel part of the tribe.
Will any woman who sees this ad want to align herself and her image with a salon that wants to make money off glamorizing female abuse? What next, Fluid? Are you going to have a woman with great hair on the table getting an abortion, just so you can say you’re cutting edge? Just to get the conversation going? As a salon, I would advise that you actually don’t have the right to comment on social issues like these with the intent to make a profit. That’s the big problem. You’re making money off this. Or at least, that’s what you hoped.
You say your intent was to not make light of abuse. Well, please enlighten me, what exactly was your intent, Fluid? Profit, of course. It always is. Let’s cut the crap.
According to your press release, you’re asking the public to stand up and “do something to stop domestic abuse.” Are you kidding? The first thing I’d do if I were you, would not be to put your mistake back onto the public to amend. Secondly, I would pull the ad. Period. Show publically that you’ve admitted you’ve gone too far and that this is not what Fluid stands for as a brand.
Is this really what you stand for, Fluid? Is this really what you back? Do all the women working in and attending your salon believe that the issue of spousal abuse is a subject approved to promote your values as a company? It sure isn’t something I would ever align myself with, and I would, therefore, never walk into your door.
Every minute of every day, a woman in Canada is abused. I guess, Fluid, you could say that’s a big target market for you to tap into. But do you really think a woman whose face has been bashed in by her husband or boyfriend is thinking about getting her hair done? A woman who’s been beaten is usually in the hospital. Why not do your next shoot in the ER? An oil spill is one thing. Seeing a woman’s face punched in for the benefit of a hair salon is another.
But, unfortunately, Fluid, you’re not the only ones who think this way. I see on page 4 of today’s Sun in the Tweet section, people actually applauding you, “for not being afraid of controversy and having the balls to say that they don’t care what anyone else thinks. As long as the target market gets a kick out of the ads, that is what matters.” I am the target market and I got a kick out this alright, right to the gut.
If you want to comment artistically on the social issues of the day in order to be a cutting edge hair salon, I will personally draw up a campaign for you that reflects what you want your salon to stand for. Because this ain’t it, babe.
A set of highlights or $60 hair cut is a little less important than someone’s shattered face or life. You don’t have the right to be a moral compass when you’re applauding and glamorizing female abuse, then expecting women to walk in the door to pay you for your services.
Donovan Creative Communications