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Terrible marketing, with an explanation

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Those of you following my twitter, or actually, just reading the internets this weekend probably stumbled across this horrifically sexist bacardi campaign.

I was actually angered enough to write bacardi directly. I can’t believe on so many levels how this made it through their marketing department. Not only is it extremely offensive, it’s also not even that well designed. Not that it being well designed would make it better, but the edgy humor they’re grasping at (which is tantalizingly out of reach) demands slick, trendy design.

I would like to join the chorus of enraged consumers I’m sure you’re hearing about your new “ugly girlfriend” campaign. I realize, as someone in the design/advertising industry, that sexism is what sells alcoholic beverages, but that campaign goes so far above and beyond what is unacceptable it’s truly disgusting. I have no idea who in marketing let that through, but it was a terrible idea. It should be pulled immediately, although it’s already too late for thousands of people who will no longer be buying your product.

And, I actually got a reply!

June 22, 2009

Dear Alicia,

We wish to thank you for writing to us about the past promotional campaign for Bacardi Breezer.

As a Company and as individuals we are also angered and dismayed that such a campaign was ever created and we have taken immediate action to stop it as it violated our stringent global marketing principles that we firmly support.

By way of explanation, but by no means an excuse, Bacardi never sponsored nor developed this promotion. But we understand it is our brand and our reputation and you are our consumers. We are also embarrassed that we didn’t catch this breach sooner. We have been urgently looking into this matter to make sure this type of activity is never repeated.

What we do know is that a third-party developed and activated this brief campaign in one small market more than a year ago without our clearance. When we discovered this promotion, we instructed our distributor to shut it down as it did not comply with our global marketing standards. We are now urgently looking into the reasons why this program was recently reposted on the internet. In markets where Bacardi does not have a corporate presence, we are represented by third parties; in this case a distributor and its advertising agency, but they must adhere to our stringent marketing principles, which clearly this campaign did not.

When Bacardi found out about this recent reposting, we immediately notified the agency and distributor to shutdown the website.

Bacardi proudly celebrates diversity and we do not endorse the views of this site or the campaign, as it is offensive and completely inappropriate. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by this campaign and thank you, our consumers for bringing it to our attention.

Sincerely,

Bacardi Limited

crossposted from fuzzdecay.com.
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On June 22nd, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC), tenshihitomi commented:
At a loss for words... don't you just love double standards?
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On June 23rd, 2009 02:47 am (UTC), fuzzdecay replied:
at first, when i just glanced over it, i was like "oh it's no big deal, i see ads like that all the time". but then i went back and actually read the desciptions of the women and it is truly upsetting.

i feel bad for the models for being used in such a way. There's no guarantee when you pose for stock that some douche won't come along and do something like this. I can only hope that it wasn't a custom shoot. if so, i can't imagine the lack of self respect those women have.
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On June 23rd, 2009 12:44 am (UTC), johnphys commented:
That's fantastic that they actually replied! I don't know that I believe their explanation, but at least they tried to give one.
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On June 23rd, 2009 02:48 am (UTC), fuzzdecay replied:
it sounds plausible enough. larger international companies generally operate independently, or nearly so, in the different markets.
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On June 30th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC), fuzzdecay replied:
well they claim it wasn't their idea. I'm surprised they don't have a centralized ad approval system like at&t does. When you're dealing with a global brand like that, you kinda have to.
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On June 30th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC), fuzzdecay replied:
I'm surprised that they don't have some sort of brand protection network that wouldn't allow something like this through. When working for at&t, we had to send everything through the branding company to make sure what we were doing was brand compliant. It doesn't make sense to give your logo to some franchiser and let them run amok.

The best part of those losers thinking these girls are ugly, is that their ideal woman would never give them the time of day. They are to those women what these women are to them.
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