Advertisement Fail: Dove Pulls Ad Calling New Jersey ‘The Armpit of America’

Advertising is key in the world of business. It helps to spread awareness about products or services that are of some use to consumer and potential buyers. Whether your promotion takes the form of print ads, commercials, billboards or handbills, the content identifies who, what, when, where and why.

An effective tagline in an advertisement helps a brand stand out in the customer’s mind. Taglines work when a brand’s differentiation is derived from a product attribute. Most brands today are distinguished less by products and features and more by values and personalities. These differentiations can sometimes present challenges for marketers.


Take for an example, Unilever’s Dove. New Jersey is sometimes not-so-lovingly referred to as the “armpit of America” perhaps because of the shape of the state or the odors that emanate from its northern industrial region. But that doesn’t mean you can joke about it in company marketing.

New Jersey residents responded in an uproar to a billboard that advertised deodorant. The ad read: “Dear New Jersey, When People call you ‘The Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove.”

Offended Facebook users posted on Dove’s page in response to the ad. “Memo to Dove advertising (aka idiots): good luck selling in NJ. I will not buy a Dove product again,” one Facebook user wrote. One woman wrote: “I use Dove Soap exclusively because it is a great product. However, your Dove Deodorant armpit commercials are offensive on several levels. Referring to New Jersey as the ‘armpit of America’ is a step too far, not amusing to NJ residents who live in its many beautiful places. The whole armpit theme ‘stinks’. It’s a little too personal. It makes me wonder what you will be showing next.”

Dove deodorant never intended to upset the residents of the state and as a result of the misunderstanding, was forced to pull the offensive ad.

The importance of print advertising comes in full effect when spreading the word of your company. Advertising invites your target audience to evaluate how your product or service measures up against your competitors. They remain an easy and effective way to communicate a new or revised brand message. Looks like Dove has to make it up to New Jersey.


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