August 31, 2011

Does this ad glamourize abuse?

Here in quiet calm Canadian Edmonton, the media and blogosphere have been abuzz for the last few days, and with good reason. There's TV coverage, newspaper articles, blog posts, water cooler talk. Our pop culture focus has briefly moved away from the Kardashians and video music awards, and on to a discussion about media and violence against women... how the hell did that happen?

A local woman's hair salon did something stupid and offensive, and then when they were publicly called on it, they reacted in a way that was even more stupid and offensive.

Fluid salon used the ad above, and most of us never saw or noticed it, until an east coast blogger saw it and went ballistic. Look at the picture: a well-coiffed woman with a nasty black eye posing provocatively on a couch; Behind her stands a creepy menacing man proffering a diamond necklace. The ad reads Look Good In All You Do.

Is this ad promoting forgiveness of abuse? For diamonds?

Critics say the ad diminishes the seriousness of abuse and would like to see the ad pulled: "This advertisement is at risk of glamourizing an issue that is of serious and life-threatening, ongoing concern to all the women and children who use our shelters," said Janine Fraser, director of the Edmonton Women's Shelter to The Huffington Post Canada.

Salon owner Sarah Cameron defends the ad on her website, calling it artistic and open to interpretation. "Is it cutting edge advertising? Yes. Is it intended to be a satirical look at real-life situations that ignites conversation and debate? Of course. Is it to everyone's taste? Probably not."

Uh, sorry lady, this is not art, which can be controversial and provocative... it's advertising, designed to sell stuff. And please go Google the meaning of "satire."

Cameron, who is apparently tone deaf and clueless, blames the media for creating the controversy. "Edmonton is presently the murder capital of Canada," her release states. "Media's energy and time may be better spent boycotting dangerous areas, gangs, guns, other street weapons, or a sick justice system, which unfortunately is still sadly lacking when it comes to punishing abusers."

Now that the shit has hit the fan, Cameron promises to donate to the Edmonton Women's Shelter when a paying customer mentions the ad. Why only when mentioned? Why only when customers are paying you money? Why did it take this controversy for you to tie in to a shelter? How much of a donation? Why not pull the ad? Why not issue a full retraction rather than attack those who criticize the ad? Did you realize that ads are public and open to people's comments? Are you saying that we common folk are too stupid to understand your clever artsy advertising?

The salon owner continues, defending the ad up and down, according to the Edmonton Sun: "We keep tailoring everything because everyone is getting so sensitive... Maybe people should stop hiding behind their computers and actually go do something."

How tone deaf are they? Facing the tore of criticism, digging in their heels, insisting they haven't done anything wrong, and turning on the bloggers who criticize them? Well I am glad to add myself to that list, you morons.

From their release: "If survivors of abuse interpret this ad to make light of any abusive situation, we sincerely apologize, that was never our intent as there are people that worked on this campaign who are survivors of abuse. To the rest of you who this has so deeply affected, we truly hope you do something to help stop domestic violence. Truly honor the survivors that you are standing up for. Unfortunately boycotting a hair salon will not accomplish this."

As TV anchor Ryan Jespersen says in his really good blog: Had the Fluid Salon team responded to this international attention differently, we'd have a whole different story on our hands. Something as simple as, "Our intentions were pure but our campaign was misguided and/or unclear. We apologize to anyone we may have offended and have withdrawn the ads in question" would have sufficed.

There is an old saying that any publicity is good publicity. I am thinking not so true right about now...


Post a Comment

Comments are like chew toys and favourite treats. Alfie says thanks!