Viral marketing is a recent trend in advertising where companies upload edgy and provocative video pieces on sites like YouTube with the hope that people will forward them on others (spreading it like a virus). The infamous cat decapitation in a Ford ad was one of the first examples of this approach.
Advertising Age reports that Method, the maker of natural cleaning products touted as NOT containing harsh chemicals such as ammonia or optical brighteners, had to take down it’s recent viral video after receiving complaints that the piece trivialized sexual assault.
Method Pulls ‘Shiny Suds’ Ad After Sexism Complaints
Household cleaner marketer Method has pulled down a viral video roundly applauded by marketers at the Association of National Advertisers annual conference last month and by most viewers who’ve seen it because of heated complaints from some women who view it as sexist and even condoning rape.
…The video got more than 700,000 views in a week on YouTube and a five-star rating from viewers before Method pulled the plug. Method competitor Unilever seemed to like it, too. Search ads for its Dove brand appeared alongside results for searches on the phrase “Shiny Suds” the day the video first appeared Nov. 18. (A spokeswoman for Dove didn’t return an e-mail for comment by deadline).
Little did attendees at the ANA or most commenters on YouTube and Twitter know, however, that the Shiny Suds were really about degrading women and promoting rape, at least in the opinion of commenters on one blog, Shakesville, which posted the video in its “Today in Rape Culture” section.
That elicited more than 100 angry comments from posters, many of whom said they would stop buying Method products and helped produce some of the hundreds of negative responses to the company’s website MethodHome.com. Among the posts: “Making us fear chemical residue from cleaning products because it’s tied into a rape threat is beyond sickening.”
I’ve included the actual video below. But just in case it’s pulled from YouTube, here’s a quick recap.
The video starts off like the typical ad you’d see for a bathroom cleaning product. In this case, the fictitious product, “Shiny Suds,” is meant to represent any of Method’s toxic competitors.
However, the next day, the female star of the ad has an ugly encounter with soapy foam residue from Shiny Suds. Naked, she has to endure a barrage of sexually charged insults from cartoon bubbles while attempting to take a shower.
The conclusion: the chemicals used in traditional cleaning products pose an invasive threat to their users.
To be honest, it didn’t strike me as bad as some things I’ve seen posted on the Internet. But the protesters certainly have a point. By pulling the ad, Method, at least tacitly, seems to be acknowledging that fact as well. Then again, I wouldn’t have heard of the video had the controversy not prompted a Facebook friend to share it online. So, there may be a method to the madness.