Hail to the "V": How Offensive is Too Offensive? {Update}



I recently wrote a post about the controversial video ads in Summer’s Eve’s “Hail to the V” campaign.  The ads use a hand in the shape of a vagina to warn women to clean their genitals…or as Summer’s Eve puts it, their “vertical smile”.  The campaign also includes a purple logo morphed to look like a vagina and an interactive “learning” quiz that asks women to indentify their “lady parts”.


I find the whole thing disgusting. A very insensitive portrayal of women (and their vaginas) was the looming result of this campaign. The lowest of lows is the fact that they are pushing young girls and women to pride themselves on what they can provide to men! This isn’t the 1930s, it’s 2011!  Summer’s Eve and the ad agency behind the ads actually sees them as “empowering women”!  Yes, Summer’s Eve, you’re right…these ads are “empowering women”…in the same way that ads about Taco Bell tacos empower Latinos.  *SARCASM*  They changed their slogan to “Think outside the bun”…seems a lot better than “Make a run for the border” in my opinion.  Let’s leave race and gender bashing out of advertising.  How about just marketing quality products in a way that makes sense and isn’t demeaning…?  Please, hire some women to oversee these ads.  I mean, the ad agency isn’t involving enough women (or people of color) and neither is the research firm that “tested” and approved these ads. In 2011, with women still fighting for respect and to be seen as intellectual equals, this type of advertising is appalling!


But, even more frightening is the fact that these ads were debuted in the previews of the new Harry Potter film, geared toward tweens and teens. Wow…as if our girls weren’t pressured enough to think about sex or please their male counterparts, now Summer’s Eve is telling them straight up that men are battling for the “V”, not them…the “V”…because apparently, that’s all a woman has to offer. Wow. Really, do girls need to hear this?  They are pressured often and hard to base their worth on the sexual acts that they will perform or how they look, let’s give them something else to strive for, please!  Summer’s Eve, if you want to reach women, the best way is TO HIRE THEM and VALUE THEIR OPINIONS on topics like this!


The News?

The latest news is a slight relief, but also still lurking in the tragic category.  Summer’s Eve has decided to pull their talking vagina ads in response to the criticism.  Huffinton Post and a slew of others have jumped to the cause…criticizing of these offensive “V” ads! launched a recent petition asking them to remove their battle scene ad and Forbe’s Magazines’s Ann Doyle wrote an intriguing piece (great article, read it!) on it’s affront to feminism and included the opinions of outraged men and women who were offended by the ads.  So the talking vagina ads have been removed, but what about the, just as offensive, Battle for the “V” ads?  Will those be trashed as well?  The scariest part is that Summer’s Eve, their ad agency (The Richard’s Group) and it’s research firm that approved the ads, won’t cop to any guilt!  In a recent article on AdWeek, The Richard’s Group‘s PR rep, Stacy Barnett had this to say…

“Stereotyping or being offensive was not our intention in any way, shape, or form” … “The decision to take the videos down is about acknowledging that there’s backlash here. We want to move beyond that and focus on the greater mission.”

“We do not think they are stereotypical, nor did we obviously intend that. However, it’s a subjective point of view” …”There seems to be an important perception out there that they may be, and we would never want to perpetuate that.” – Stacy Barnett, PR at The Richard’s Group



According to Barnett, the company claims no wrong doing and believes that any opinions that their ads are stereotypical are simply “subjective“…meaning what?  Opinions from women of color aren’t important enough to warrant a concern?  Let me say this, if anyone should get to judge what a stereotype looks and feels like, it should be people of color, not white male executives with no idea of what it feels like to have assumptions about your “ethnicity” paraded through an ad such as this.  One more example of how white privilege can wash away the views of POC and make their concerns seem petty.


I, for one, am happy that some of these ads have been removed, but there really needs to be an apology here and the company needs to see this as a learning opportunity, not just feminists and POC complaining about things that don’t matter to them.


Just for a taste of what women are saying about these ads, check out a few of the comments that I pulled from the “Hail to the V” Facebook page



For more commentary from those who took offense to these sexist/racist and flat-out disgusting ads, see the Forbe’s article that I mentioned above.  There are a whole ton of amazing women and a few men, speaking their mind on the topic.




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South Texas Foodie, Traveler, Photographer, and Designer.