The poster, which was set to describe the state as the country’s armpit, has been dropped after unimpressed consumers got wind of the plans ahead of the brand’s summer campaign.
The change of plan suggests the beauty company, whose US headquarters are situated within the state at Eaglewood Cliffs, accepts it misjudged the likely consumer response.
The offending ad
“Dear New Jersey,” reads the billboard mock-up. “When people call you ‘The Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove.”
The ad would have been part of a wider TV and billboard campaign the beauty brand is running at the moment, with which Dove states it hopes to ‘reclaim’ the word armpit, encouraging its use in a positive way.
The New York Times reported that the brand initially stood by the billboard, with senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants Matthew McCarthy voicing his confidence in it.
“I don’t expect that there will be a lot of people who misunderstand, but to the degree that they do, we’ll be open about what we’re really trying to say,” he said.
“The message that we want to get out there is that the armpit is not a bad thing, and that we stand for caring for the armpit.”
The weight of growing public disapproval of the advertisement, however, proved enough to change Dove’s tune, and they have since told consumers they will no longer run the billboard and offending tagline.
New Jersey 101.5 radio conducted a poll which revealed 64% of respondents found the billboard ‘insulting’, and popular US blog aimed at women’s interest, Jezebel, was quick to join the fray, describing the ad as “a tampon commercial gone wrong”.
Consumers took to Facebook to voice their dissatisfaction , in response to which the brand announced its decision to drop the ad.
“Dove Deodorant never intended to upset the residents of the state. As a result of your feedback, Dove Deodorant will not be moving forward with publishing or displaying this ad,” it posted.
Dove’s response confirms that the weight of consumer opinion on social networks is an increasingly key concern for beauty brand identity.