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Beneath the gloss lies a lack of diversity

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16.02.2018

Some advertisers must hanker for the old days. It must've been much easier to market a product when you could just slap a picture of a beautiful woman alongside it, layer a suggestive slogan on top and fire it off to the client in time for a celebratory Scotch at 5pm. What did it matter if the product was likely to kill its customers? Or if the idea of the ad was to guilt consumers into buying something by making them feel bad about themselves? As long as the sales rolled in, everything was hunky-dory.

Nowadays, consumers are more discerning – or, according to the PC-gone-mad brigade, sensitive. Adverts that objectify, denigrate or shame people are decidedly out of fashion, leaving a vacuum that, if recent efforts are anything to go by, advertisers are struggling to fill.

Lapses in judgment are no longer just contenders for "worst ad of the year" awards, they can now turn into global PR nightmares, as Dove found out last year when it published an ad on Facebook that featured a black woman taking off her brown T-shirt to reveal a white woman, who then took off her beige T-shirt to reveal a Middle Eastern woman. How anyone could think an ad like that was a good idea, I'll never know, but thousands of social media users quickly brought Dove up to speed.

A similar social media tidal wave occurred in January, when it emerged that cosmetic brand Hard Candy had applied to trademark the iconic #metoo, injecting corporate interests into a........

© New Zealand Herald