Article by Nikki Childers | esPResso Staff Writer
Part of Bloomingdale’s 2015 holiday catalog was meant to advertise Rebecca Minkoff merchandise; however, the company ended up adverting a subliminal message of encouraging date rape instead.
The ad illustrates a well-dressed man eyeing a laughing woman looking in the opposite direction. Under the image the text reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.”
Most of the comments left on major social sites such as Twitter and Facebook, were negative and were in no way in approving of the advertisement. Well respected social media figure, and CEO of Mashable.com Jim Roberts tweeted, “Someone at Bloomingdale’s thought this ad was smart. I assume that person has been fired.”
The lack of quality control from a few creative and editorial professionals ultimately put a dent in the high-end retailer’s reputable image. The crude message goes synonymous with the brand, leaving some shoppers weary about their loyalty toward the company.
The poor taste of the ad shows the importance of how a thoughtless decision, can leave a negative lasting impression. The timing of the ad could not have been worse, since the holiday season is in full swing, and every major retailer is competing for sales.
The ad can be left to the interpretation of the viewer. The creative team behind the piece were presumably reaching for humor, not thinking the ad would directly promote sexual assault. What’s surprising is the amount of people who would have gave approval for the ad to run, prior to being published in the magazine.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, drug rape is one of the most common sexual assault crimes today, and is illegal, as found in a recent article by Fortune.com.
The store issued an apology on November 10th via Twitter, stating, “We heard your feedback about our catalog copy, which was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes.”
Although apologies over social media can be perceived disingenuous, it was vital that Bloomingdale’s apologize to its customer base. The sharing of the ad went viral, causing negative search engine optimization. A high-end retailer, like Bloomingdale’s, would hope that an internet search during the holiday season would be beneficial, and instantly bring up sales or the latest fashion.
A quick company search brings up a mixture of both sales and messages of outrage about the controversial ad. The lesson here is to always think past what can get a few laughs and focus on how a message can positively spotlight a company’s image.
As billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
There is no way to retract the ad, since the magazine in which it was published has already been printed and distributed for the holiday season.