Fleet Laboratories has pulled the controversial talking-hand-puppet-vagina web ads for its Summer's Eve washes off YouTube, following considerable lampooning and complaints by some online commentators that the ads were racist.
This particular set in the marketer's "Hail to the V" tribute to all things vaginal featured white, African-American and Hispanic versions of women's hands paying tribute to the female anatomy and emphasized the need to wash the area regularly with its pH-balanced cleanser. Richards Group, Dallas, named agency of record for the brand less than a year ago, last year distinguished itself with a controversial print ad that suggested women would be more successful at getting raises if they would douche first.
While the officially approved ads are gone from YouTube, unauthorized versions are still to be found there, and are viewable in their entirety in a clip from "The Colbert Report" (see below), which suggests comparable advertising for male-hygiene products.
Spokespeople for Richards Group couldn't be reached or didn't immediately return calls for comment. Angela Bryant, director of U.S. marketing for Fleet, also didn't immediately return a call for comment.
It all does raise the question of whether the douche brand is being deliberately provocative to drum up publicity. One sign that Fleet doesn't mind the fuss: Ms. Bryant last year was brand manager of Summer's Eve when she publicly apologized for the douche-to-get-a-raise ad. This year, she's director of U.S. marketing.
Another fun fact: Fleet is based in Lynchburg, Va., also home to the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the conservative evangelical Liberty University.
While the vaginal hand puppets are gone, other elements of "Hail to the V," including a talking pussycat at thatsvaginal.com, remain. Other cinematic-style ads featuring men throughout history fighting for access to "the V" continue to run, too, apparently also in cinema advertising for the NCM Theater Network. And the Caucasian version of the hand-puppet ad also continues to grace the homepage at SummersEve.com.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Vaginal Puppeteering vs. D**k Scrub|