So if you follow any progressive feminist blogs, chances are you’ve already heard about this story out of Edmonton. A hair salon, FluidHair recently launched a set of six ads featuring images of domestic violence and high-risk lifestyles, with the tag line “Look Good In All You Do”. Catchy, no?
Of course, it has pretty quickly provoked an irate response online, across social media, and in posts on their Facebook page by disgruntled women’s rights advocates, and the extended community.
The owner, Sarah Cameron said that the point of the ads was to spark controversy, but they were never meant to target or attack anyone.
“It might strike a chord, but as the way our society and community is getting, we keep tailoring everything because everyone is getting so sensitive,”
While she might be right about people being overly sensitive to an ad campaign that was trying to be a little bit edgy (beside that fact that she missed the entire point being raised in oposition to the adds, a discussion for another time), the incident, highlights once again how careful you have to be when it comes to controversial issues.
Why? Because the people that care about the potentially sensitive issue, are the ones that will take to social media and stir up a shit storm of controversy – not the target audience, that thinks it’s a little bit racy or controversial, enough to make them remember the ad, and maybe even your company, but not enough to be offended. Those people aren’t going to take to the interwebs to defend you in response to the “overly-sensitive-bleeding-heart-activists”. If anything they are likely going to listen to those complaining, concerned that they might overstep now established lines in the sand regarding social taboos for supporting un-kosher businesses.
So what should Sarah Cameron have done? Or better yet, should she do? What is the appropriate PR response to fixing this mistake? And yes, regardless of your opinion on the adds, the response it has provoked makes it a mistake. If it were me, I would publicly apologize for the offending picture (it was only one out of the six after all), remove it, and offer to donate a portion of profits from increased sales to a women’s shelter. It’s a genuine response, that demonstrates an acknowledgement of the significance of the issue of violence against women, and it would capitalize on, extend and positively spin the increase coverage being generated by the add campaign.
Is it giving in to pressure by these groups? Yes. But that’s exactly the point – social media has the capacity to have this influence and it’s win win. The people that took the salon’s side aren’t going to abandon the store because it caved to criticism, but those that might have stayed away because of the issue, are probably more likely to come.
Fix the mistakes you make, if not because it’s the right thing to do, at least because it’s the smart thing to do.