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Shoe City apologises for "tasteless" magazine ad by Lowe Bull

Shoe City marketing director Louise Hamman today, Wednesday, 8 June 2011, has issued a statement apologising on behalf of the company after receiving complaints yesterday, Tuesday 7 June, via marketing and social media sites about an "offensive" print ad by Lowe Bull for Shoe City, which was labeled as "tasteless", "irresponsible" and "insensitive" by animal lovers. [updated]
States Hamman, "I wish to extend my sincere apologies for any offence or emotional distress that was caused by the print advertisement. As a company we value and vigorously support animal rights, as well as the communities we serve, and after becoming aware that the advert had offended some individuals, have taken a number of corrective measures."

The advertisement, which was conceptualised and executed by Lowe Bull, appeared in You, Huisgenoot and Drum magazines last month with the tag line "Whatever happens, there's always Shoe City". However, Lowe Bull no long works on the Shoe City account; before the public outcry happened, ninety9cents had been appointed to manage the brand's ATL work.

Confirmed actionables

The confirmed actionables are:
  • Immediate suspension of the advertising campaign

  • The introduction of an internal review process to ensure that all external messaging is aligned to Shoe City's value system and ethos

  • The donation of R15 000 by Shoe City to the Animal Anti-Cruelty League, with an additional R10 000 contribution from You magazine (to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the rights of animals and ensuring that the advertising message isn't misconstrued by the public)
Consumer outrage occurred yesterday on, Twitter and Facebook after Lindsay Grubb's opinion piece How to lose your customers in three easy steps was published here on Bizcommunity.

Shoe City is currently in the process of apologising to wall comments on its Facebook page.

For more:

Updated at 2.32pm on 8 June 2011.
For More links updated at 3.55pm on 8 June 2011.
For More links updated at 10.42pm on 9 June 2011.
For More list updated at 3.55pm on 21 June 2011.
Dianne Bayley
Lowe Bull? What is happening to "creatives"? Goodness me!
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 13:13
Murray Campbell
Is any publicity still good publicity.
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 13:22
Shirley Briedenhann
We lost our 21 year-old family cat via a careless neighbour and his car but this ad didn't offend me in the slightest. I just think the ad is dumb but those who have taken offence are over-sensitive.
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 14:14
Damien du Toit
no :)
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 14:23
Sandi Krige
Have we lost our sense of humour now too? Would adding the line "no animals were hurt in the making of this ad" have helped.Surely nobody took it seeriously?
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 15:39
Donald Paul
Do Lowe Bull have a comment?
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 16:06
Wayne Naidoo
Lowe Bull regrets any distress caused by the Shoe City ‘Cats’ ad. It was never the agency’s aim to encourage cruelty towards animals. This ad is one execution in an extended campaign. To put the ad into context, the campaign looks at hypothetical situations where something has gone wrong in a person’s day, with varying degrees of disaster. For example: spilling coffee on your lap, spilling coffee on your laptop or spilling coffee on your boss’s laptop. The solution is some retail therapy to help cheer you up – a new pair of shoes from Shoe City. The tone of the campaign is light-hearted and not malevolent. The ‘cat’ ad was never intended to cause offence at any point. However we acknowledge that it is possible to interpret the ad in such a way that it looks to be in poor taste. For this we apologise. No harm was meant. We do, in fact, have a proven track record with animal anti-cruelty organisations, which is evident in our pro bono campaigns for Animal Anti Cruelty (which we’ve been involved with for over 8 years), Stop Rhino Poaching, SASSI (for endangered fish) and DAWG. And we will continue to do work for these worthy causes. Once again we sincerely apologise for any distress caused. Best, Wayne Naidoo - Lowe Bull CEO.
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 16:52
Simone Puterman
Please note that Lindsay Grubb is an opinion piece contributor, not a Bizcommunity columnist.
Posted on 8 Jun 2011 17:40
Dean Harty
I am an animal lover have two pup's and would be devastated if they got run over but this ad didn't upset me... don't get me wrong as stated its a stupid ad really guys you get paid for this? but i also feel today people are complain for the sake of complaining id be more worried about the post by another lady on - first time Ive seen or heard of that and that needs some complaining about!!!
Posted on 9 Jun 2011 08:30
Brehndan Botha
So, two things:1) this is what happens when advertising campaigns are 'creative led' and not led by strategy - the client is squarely to blame for this; and2) in light of the collective cost of placing these ads in You, Huisgenoot and Drum is a paltry R15 000 donation anything more than a knee-jerk, thinly-veiled appeasement to the outcry?
Posted on 9 Jun 2011 09:57
Tim Pinder
If you had some grown up people in charge, this tasteless crap wouldn't have been allowed out of the agency. Hire children and you see what happens.
Posted on 9 Jun 2011 10:24
Jo Maxx
Dear Shoe City, who approved Lowe Bull's ad in the first place? Sure, they came up with the concept...but YOU approved it!
Posted on 9 Jun 2011 11:42
Madame Maxine
The outpour of bigotry that this issue has caused has been shocking. There are much more important issues in the world than the death of a hypothetical cat. Let's move on from this ridiculous and frankly embarrassing 'outcry' by a bunch of people that take themselves way too seriously and focus on things that really matter. Sheesh!!
Posted on 9 Jun 2011 18:56