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.
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)
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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.
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 stopcrush.org - first time Ive seen or heard of that and that needs some complaining about!!!
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; and 2) 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?
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!!