Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Bad Ad! Bad Ad!

SayUncle has some advice for Knox County parents protesting a suggestive perfume ad appearing in Seventeen magazines currently available in local school libraries: Get over it.

Some Knox County folks with no sense of humor are upset about ads for French Connection United Kingdom:

A group of Tennessee parents are livid about a teen magazine ad for a company known for its provocative acronym, FCUK. Clothing store company French Connection United Kingdom ran an ad for one of its perfumes in Seventeen magazine, which is available at several Knox County public school libraries in Knoxville, Tenn.

Some parents were so outraged that they complained to school officials, prompting at least a dozen schools to review all their magazine subscriptions.
First of all, you're correct - pressuring schools to cancel subscriptions without process is not the right way to deal with it. Like boycotts, all this harms is innocent rank and file employees - in this case the employees of magazine publishing industries.

However, there's nothing wrong with parents being comfortable with what magazines their kids are exposed to in schools, and expecting the schools to be able to justify the decisions on what magazines they subscribe to. If they carry "Seventeen" and not, say, "National Geographic" or "Discover" then there's a disconnect somewhere....

Hate to break this to you guys, but kids are exposed to stuff at every turn (cable, billboards, the internet) so it is up to you parental types to deal with it.
Well, at least they are dealing with it - better than ignoring the problem altogether. If you intend "deal with it" to mean "get over it," then, no - not when children are concerned.

I understand most of you can't deal with that and have to blame magazines, libraries, and crappy perfume. Take care of your own mess.
They are trying to do something about a bad message being presented to their kids. If you understand the whole story of the ad, it's not just the acronym that's objectionable but the fact that there's a photo of an obviously teenage boy and girl in various stages of undress, sitting next to each other on a bed. The word FCUK is printed below them, with a caption explaining that the kids were "Scent to Bed."


It's simply the wrong image to send to a teen - and the fact that they're confronted with these images from all sides, as you say, is exactly why a stand needs to be made. They are "dealing with it", and "taking care of their own mess".

Yes, the tactics need to be refined. But the will is there and the recognition of the bad message is there and that's a positive thing.

Example of what not to do:

Minnesota (St. Paul) Group Plans Boycott Over FCUK Brand

"A parents' group based in St. Paul is threatening a boycott of Target Corp. and its Marshall Field's stores unless the company stops carrying the controversial line of clothing and fragrances.
C'mon, people. It's not Target's fault, it's not Marshall Fields' fault. There's probably nothing wrong with the product itself - it's just perfume for goodness sake. This is not where to apply the pressure, and the only thing that might possibly succeed is that Target and Marshall Fields rank and file minimum-wage employees get their hours cut. Yeah, that's progress.

In another article, there's good and bad at the same time:

Kaufmann's pulls racy fragrance ads - 50 stores in four states respond as customers turn up noses at displays

The Good:
The department store chain also will stop mailing racy advertising circulars that feature the scent, but Kaufmann's stores will keep selling it, said Robin Reibel, a spokeswoman for the Boston-based retailer.

"We are sensitive to our customers' comments,'' Reibel said.

Kaufmann's said it received numerous calls complaining about the signs, displays and advertising inserts. The complaints intensified after Akron Beacon Journal business reporter Mary Ethridge discussed the fragrance in her Mad Shopper column Friday.


Karyn Halpern of Akron said she's thrilled the department-store chain has decided to stop advertising the perfume.

"I got the flier in the mail, and I thought, `Where are their brains?' '' she said from her Akron home.

"I think they have to be responsible for what they put on display and what they sent out to people's homes,'' Halpern added.


"If they want to sell it, that's fine. But those big signs aren't necessary,'' [father of 3 Brian] Keel said.
The Bad:
Eva Buhite of Wadsworth said just selling it is going too far.

The grandmother said she canceled a subscription to a teen magazine that runs FCUK ads. Next on her list is a boycott of Kaufmann's for selling the perfume.

"They really hurt themselves big time by doing this,'' she said. ``If my granddaughters go in there and I see it, I'd probably stand there and bust every bottle.''
Some people get it and some people don't.

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