I thought last yearís Summerís Eve campaign was horrendous enough. After they asked me to be their spokesperson (and I said ďNo freakiní way -†itís supposed to smell like that!”) I was appalled at their advertorial in Womanís Day magazine that offered up tips for how to ask your boss for a raise. Nobody mentioned things like ďHey, you know how I come up with the most creative ideas in the board room and we land boatloads of accounts because of my brilliance.Ē Nope, instead, the #1 tip for asking your boss for a raise was WASH YOUR VAGINA. You sure wouldnít want to show up with a stinky cooch when youíre asking for the big bucks. (You can†read the whole story here).
Last year, they effed up so badly, their marketing director even publicly apologized on Owning Pink. She asked me how Summerís Eve could rectify their major f*ck up. Hereís what I wrote to her:
How can Summer’s Eve fix this? I thought long and hard about it. Yes, I know it must be a PR nightmare, and I empathize with those who are struggling to rectify what has happened. But how CAN Summer’s Eve fix this and stay in business?
I would love to see Summer’s Eve start a campaign aimed at helping women learn to love their bodies (and their good-smelling natural vaginas) just the way they are. Rather than tapping into the fears and insecurities most women have about their girl parts, why not help them know that they’re normal – and they’re beautiful, and that if they have an odor so strong that they might not get a raise – they need to see a doctor!
How will this sell product for Summer’s Eve, when I know you all have quotas to meet? Just look at alcohol and tobacco companies for guidance. They are selling something most of us know is bad for us and yet many use the products anyway. So while it may seem counterintuitive to empower women about how to love their natural odor, rather than scaring them into buying a feminine wash, it just might work. There are still those committed followers of the brand who will love the brand all the more for helping spread the message that we’re beautiful, perfect, whole beings. If the brand starts a campaign like this with a pure heart – not just to sell product but to truly help change the way the female body is viewed, that would be something I would rave about here at Owning Pink. That would take guts. That would take a stand on behalf of all of us. And I’d love to see more brands willing to truly support the whole health of women.
So thank you, again, for your apology. Now, take a deep breath, get a massage, call your BFFs so they can take you out and give you hug, and please join the rest of us in the fight to redefine the new feminism and bring advertising into the modern world.
Unsurprisingly, I got no response.
Letís start out by stating one thing we all know very clearly. As an OB/GYN physician, I can tell you that Summerís Eve products are not only unnecessary (who wants their vagina to smell like BERRY?), theyíre also dangerous and increase the risk of allergic reactions, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and other dermatologic conditions.
So, in light of this fact, I can understand how hard it must be to sell a product doctors despise. But that makes me even more baffled at Summerís Eveís new campaign,†Hail To the V, which launched in many theaters as a movie trailer for the new Harry Potter film. (WTF? Harry Potter? Summerís Eve? Thatís almost as much of a misfit as asking Lissa Rankin to be their spokesperson. Ha!) You can†read all the juicy details of the ad here. But hereís a brief summary:
First we see a woman holding an infant up to the prehistoric, dawn-of-time moonlight..† Next, Cleopatra stands before her adoring audience, raises her arms into a V for victory, and the crowd goes wild.† Next up are two Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon type men, flying through a bamboo forest, presumably battling over some woman. Finally, two knights joust, while the queen looks on.
All throughout, the narration is along the lines of, “All society is based on it, men have fought and died for it for millennia, blah blah blah.Ē
Then, while the knights are still jousting, the ad cuts to a woman in the grocery store, strolling through the lady parts aisle, and the narrator says something like “So show it some love, ladies!”
“It” – of course – the “V” weíre supposed to hail – is The Vagina. Enter Summerís Eve feminine wash product.
The grocery store woman is holding a Summer’s Eve “feminine wash” product weíre supposed to use to show “it” some love. (Cause thatís how I show my “V” some love. Donít you? Forget sex with someone you adore. Forget masturbation. I wash my vagina with something that smells like RAIN and then my “V” feels loved. BULLSHIT!)
Plus, what does all this mean? Is that all we are? Why are we hailing the “V” here? Because there have been vaginas since the dawn of time? Because powerful women like Cleopatra have one? Because they are so enticing, mysterious, and consuming that men die for them? (Guys, how does this make you feel? Cause I donít know about you, but Iím pretty sure any guy who would die for me would do it for reasons that go way deeper than my “V”. I tend to think most dudes arenít quite that shallow, but maybe Summer’s Eve knows more about men than I do.)
The rest of the campaign is now rolling out and itís even worse. The star of the Hail To the V campaign is – itís hard for me to write this and feel even remotely serious – a talking vagina hand. Yes, a talking hand, like the kind you hold up against a wall for kids to make animal shadows that moo or oink.
My dear fellow blogger, Pauline Campos, posted a review of the offending ads yesterday here on Owning Pink (which you can read about here), so I won’t go into my commentary of the offending ads themselves. †Besides, Pauline nailed it.
But Iím assuming that whoever was responsible for last yearís Summerís Eve ad fiasco got canned, so I can only guess that this†brilliant marketing is a new directorís miserable failure.
Which makes me feel even more bewildered. Like were these ad execs really high-fiving each other in the board room going, ďYou nailed it this time! The women are gonna EAT UP that Latina vagina hand!Ē
Iím afraid I have nothing more to say (and you know me. That doesnít happen very often.)
Speechless – and terribly, terribly disappointed,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of†OwningPink.com,†Pink Medicine Revolutionary,†motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about†Lissa Rankin here.