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Role Models marketing geniuses need some sensitivity training, stat


What I'm most shocked about by the controversial Role Models advertising campaign is that the obviously offensive posters must have been signed-off by multiple parties.

Working in social media for the last few years (and just in the working world in general) I am very aware of how many layers of an organisation it takes to sign off a big campaign.

More often than not, there's even more than just the primary organisation involved - sometimes there's third-party creative agencies and designers, etc.

Not forgetting the stages of a photo campaign - from inception to approval and then design, which involves casting a shoot, setting up props and scene, shooting and editing photographs.

Addition of branding and circulation are the final steps in a (simplified) progress chain of the majority of big projects.

So what I am most confused about is how this disgusting campaign made it's way through several layers of checks and balances to the public eye.

Did not one single person involved in this campaign see the problem in what they were inferring?

The organisers have claimed that this poster was not intended to imply sexual assault as a result of drinking but I can see no other meaning.

Did they propose 'girl crying because she was drinking too much' and just meander through the process, completely oblivious, or is there something more disturbing - that they thought this was OK because they thought this message was OK?

Another example of victim blaming in this campaign is the poster of a passed-out girl being photographed by a disembodied hand with the hashtag #Embarrassing, implying - No, outright stating - that the girl is at fault because she drank too much. Again, the person who actually committed the act (in this case, taking a photo) is completely absolved of blame is literally out of the picture.

The chief executive of Barnardos – who, in my opinion, should know better – has stood by the campaign as it’s chairman.

He said the campaign “was intended to be provocative. The ads are intended to start a discussion".

However, I can’t help but notice the sheer volume of these ads that people are finding offensive and the gender balance within those offensive ads. I think there are some underlying misogyny issues embedded in the core of the teams who worked on this campaign.

I'm so tired of being outraged – of having to be outraged - by offensive images approved by people who should know better. This campaign should be retracted immediately and an apology issued. Perhaps they should also provide the marketing department with some sensitivity training - urgently.


Online Editors