‘Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm’, interestingly, perhaps if the Lush Campaign had used more words rather than a misleading banner, then they wouldn't have had to pull their campaign 9 days before the scheduled expiry.
Some will recognise the words in italic above, for reference, they are from an older song called 'Enjoy the Silence' by Depeche Mode (though, I am also partial to the Lacuna Coil version as well).
Lush (the cosmetic company), released a campaign in early June, and within hours it reached mainstream news. While the company were campaigning for a very worthwhile cause, saying that the advertisement for the campaign could have been better, is a rather tepid understatement.
The advertisement which rattled many cages, showed a split picture of a man, on the left he is displayed as a civilian, and on the right, he is dressed in police uniform. The tagline “Paid to Lie” across the picture was displayed in many of the Lush shop windows, along with fake police tape saying “Police have crossed the line” (this I personally believe was the fuel for outrage). At the footer of the advertisement in the shop windows there were also two cubes which gave more information about the #spycops campaign, however this was displayed below eye level, and was not included on many of the social media banners.
Many were outraged by the advertisement, and the uproar was split among several avenues. While there was little evidence of anyone arguing against the actual campaign itself, many of those who support and/or are connected to the police showed disappointment at the advertisement, and many (including myself), stated how misleading it was.
I will reinforce this again, that many were disappointed at the advert NOT the actual campaign.
Others argued that people needed to read past the tagline and navigate to the actual campaign to know what it was about. Unfortunately, we are in a society that assimilates information at expediential rates, we want bullet points, not paragraphs, and a good advertising agency would know this.
So, we can look at this from a few aspects.
1) The advert itself clearly caused a massive uproar.
2) One would think that a professional advertising agency would know that using a picture, props and taglines in this manner would cause controversy.
3) The placement of the props was in the front window of the shops, with the cubes giving further information below eye level – so many would have not seen them either at a glance or walking in a crowd. The cubes were not even included on the social media banners.
4) A picture paints a thousand words, and keep in mind that the UK is multi-national, many would have interpreted the picture, if you take away the words, it is still not clear what the message is.
This is not defined of course to those whose English is not their primary language. In general, I feel that the advertisement could have been compelling. Instead, and from a professional standpoint, my OCD was tingling like Vern’s tail in Over the Hedge. Even on the social media sites, as well as Lush's website, the URL (or online campaign address), was not as accessible as it could have been – so infuriating
Most images, campaigns and even posts are glanced at, and so the message needs to be free from hoodwink. One would hope that those creating advertisements, bear in mind modern societies need for the fast assimilation of information, and that said information can easily be misconstrued as a result.
From this we can deduce two things:
1) This was a deliberate controversial advertisement to provoke debate, and/or raise the company's financial profile at the same time; or
2) This was a marketing blunder. A harmless accident.
Needless to say, a strong debate may have arisen, but the attention was not focused on the campaign, which we are led to believe was the intention, and as a result Lush have more than likely lost a few customers in the meantime – if their Facebook page is anything to go by.
If the aim was to create a controversial advert that would provoke conversation, they have succeeded, but one thing companies need to be aware of nowadays, is that a Twitter and Facebook war can be created in a matter of hours, and yeas ago it used to be, there is no such thing as bad publicity, well nowadays there is.
Let's also keep in mind that the majority of police officers are good serving individuals who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. Swaying the public in a particular manner, whether accidental or not, is irresponsible.
The advertisement was taken down on 8 June 2018 (it was scheduled to run until 17 June 2018). The reason was that Lush felt it’s staff were being harassed, and wanted to spare them even more discomfort.
Personally, I do not endorse the mistreatment of the shop staff, they are doing their jobs and they are being told where to put the advertisements, and some stores actually refused to put the advertisement up anticipating the response.
The size of the advertisement was also inhibiting. To move their soaps and other products from the frontline window displays, meant they were clearly trying to get this message across to the public.
While I and many others are still in the dark about what their true motive was, there is a genuine concern that the officers Lush were trying to target with their advertising, would not be affected as much as the officers who were not involved. Bearing in mind that when the #spycops were in action, this was before many of our current officers were serving.
While this campaign may have been based on good intentions (we all know what road is paved with good intentions), and the #spycops crossed the line, Lush have most definitely crossed the thin blue line - or should I say made the thin blue line very cross indeed.
Since the advertisement was taken down, it was mentioned that another, more subtle advert has been put in its place, but for the avoidance of doubt, this is the campaign that Lush were trying to advertise.
We hope you have learnt from this Lush, and better luck next time.