May 27, 2015

Wrapping Your Company in the American Flag: Dangerous Brand Juju

Almay®, owned by Revlon®, recently found itself in hot water when the watchdog group Truth in Advertising ( accused the make-up company of making unqualified claims in its latest ad campaign. More specifically, said Almay’s Simply American ™ campaign promotes products that don’t meet with legal standard for products Made in the USA.

These claims are too new to rate, but you can see TINA’s complaint here. Revlon disagreed with’s findings, and asked that the group “discontinue any further inquiry into Almay’s advertising.”

It’s so tempting for companies to align with consumer values like patriotism. After all, Revlon is an American company. Why not promote it as nationalistic and feature an American beauty like Carrie Underwood in their ads? Why not wrap themselves in the American flag?

Values connections between products and consumers are bold moves. We seek to associate our brands with consumer ideals, but at what cost? We all know not to discuss religion or politics at the dinner table if we don’t want to start a food fight. But if we remove emotionally charged references from our marketing, are we limited to bland and shallow?

Bottom line: proceed with caution. If you’re going to attach your company to an ideal your audience holds dear, make sure you do it justice. If you’re going to make a claim that calls God or country to mind, make sure your pants don’t catch fire.  Because if they do, it’s some seriously bad juju.

We’ll watch to see how this unfolds. Will Revlon emerge as an all-American hero battling an unwarranted lawsuit? Or a profit giant exploiting American values to sell products manufactured – even partially – overseas? Being “Simply American” might not be so simple after all.

Bold Moves -- Bad Juju
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