Bacardi responds to "Get An Ugly Girlfriend" offensive campaign

The blogosphere is on fire over Bacardi's "Get An Ugly Girlfriend" Campaign. Barcardi pulled down the web site promoting the campaign and here is the company response:

"Thank you for taking the time to post your story on Bacardi Breezer.

The campaign you are referring to ran in 2008 for two months in
Israel. Even though Bacardi Breezer is not sold or distributed in the
United States, we immediately notified the appropriate Bacardi
affiliate and had this website shut down.

Bacardi proudly celebrates diversity and we do not endorse the views
of this site. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by this
site and thank you for bringing it to our attention."

– Sean-Patrick Hillman of bacardi.com, June 21, 2009 via Sweet Machine.


Ok Mr. Sean nice blanket response, a few questions for you;

1) You are the Bacardi publicist. Where is the Corporate Big Dog that should be responding to this?

2) Your twitter response to this "crisis" was unnecessary….as a publicist we would think you would know to shut your yapper.

3) McCann Digital Israel obviously didn't get any slap on the hand about the Ugly Girlfriend campaign seeing that they submitted it to The Cannes Lions Festival (THE annual event for top advertising creative), even twittering about it on Saturday June 12 to gloat about the catalog

4) AXE is also a client of McCann Digital Israel, in fact they just won a Bronze in the Platinum category at Cannes for their work, didn't that give Bacardi a clue they were a real class act?

5) I see Bacardi's female CMO Stella David just got canned after 15 years with the company…I wonder what she thought of this campaign?

Start digging man, this could get uglier.

mV

UPDATE 6/22 4pmCST: Sean Hillmann pulled down the tweet shown above. I wonder why? Maybe because Rachel at FWordblog and I stalked him

I've asked McCann Israel for more info on their award submission for The Ugly Girlfriend Campaign, let's see what they come back with.

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14 Responses to Bacardi responds to "Get An Ugly Girlfriend" offensive campaign

  1. smudgeruk says:

    Ohhhh.
    Well, if it only ran in Israel, it doesn’t count, then.
    *rolls eyes*

  2. Bacardi sent me an additional note stating that it did not sponsor nor develop the campaign and that, in essence, McCann Digital was using its brand without its permission.
    And it is the role of a publicist to respond to matters like these. That’s what they’re hired to do.

  3. mV says:

    Hi Rachael: I hear you…but I don’t buy it.
    I work in the advertising business, and trust me – no campaign such as this gets produced without a major Brand’s knowledge.
    Plus McCann Digital is a highly respected agency, why would they get involved with such a campaign if their “client” was doing it without permission. Too much business risk and liability here don’t you think?
    mV

  4. smudgeruk says:

    “Bacardi sent me an additional note stating that it did not sponsor nor develop the campaign and that, in essence, McCann Digital was using its brand without its permission.”
    I don’t understand why this would be the case… It just doesn’t make sense.

  5. mV says:

    Agreed- here is the note Rachael from fword blog received…hole getting bigger as we speak:
    We wish to thank all of you who have written us about a past promotional campaign for Bacardi Breezer.
    As a Company and as individuals we are also angered and dismayed that such a campaign was ever created and we have taken immediate action to stop it as it violated our stringent global marketing principles that we firmly support.
    By way of explanation, but by no means an excuse, Bacardi never sponsored nor developed this promotion. But we understand it is our brand and our reputation and you are our consumers. We are also embarrassed that we didn’t catch this breach sooner. We have been urgently looking into this matter to make sure this type of activity is never repeated.
    What we do know is that a third-party developed and activated this brief campaign in one small market more than a year ago without our clearance. When we discovered this promotion, we instructed our distributor to shut it down as it did not comply with our global marketing standards. We are now urgently looking into the reasons why this program was recently reposted on the internet. In markets where Bacardi does not have a corporate presence, we are represented by third parties; in this case a distributor and its advertising agency, but they must adhere to our stringent marketing principles, which clearly this campaign did not.
    When Bacardi found out about this recent reposting, we immediately notified the agency and distributor to shutdown the website.
    Bacardi proudly celebrates diversity and we do not endorse the views of this site or the campaign, as it is offensive and completely inappropriate. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by this campaign and thank you, our consumers for bringing it to our attention.
    Sincerely,
    Bacardi Limited
    I responded with these questions:
    Hi Rachael: This letter is total and complete B.S!
    That renegade agency submitted the Ugly Girlfriend Campaign as their best work to The Cannes International Advertising Festival. Then, they were airheaded enough to twitter about it…hello?
    I thought you may be interested in my message back to Hillman that I posted on ShapelyProse:
    Mr. Hillman: How did the Bacardi “affiliate” retain McCann Digital for this campaign?
    McCann Digital is a highly respected agency, I find it hard to believe they would proceed on any campaign of this magnitude on behalf of an “affiliate” that did not have permission to do so.
    Further, McCann Digital Israel is quite proud of this campaign, seeing that they submitted it to The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival which is going on as we speak.
    Do you intend to allow this renegade “affiliate” to tarnish Bacardi’s brand image in this way?
    Finally, does Corporate intend on submitting a statement of apology on this campaign, or are they asking you as the publicist to handle the uproar?
    mV
    PS Perhaps you and McCann Digital Israel should stay off twitter for the time being…your tweets don’t sit too well when the McCann is bragging about the campaign as you are apologizing for it. More here; http://bit.ly/aPsO
    (UPDATE: SMHillman, the Bacardi Publicist just removed his tweet since questions were being asked of him over on twitter)

  6. Meryt Bast says:

    SMHillman has “protected” his updates on Twitter. Aren’t we scary?

  7. hypomanicstreetpreacher (formerly smudgeruk) says:

    *rubs hands with glee*
    I do so love it when a plan comes together…

  8. Egg Beaten Angel says:

    You go, girl! You sooooo kicked his butt! You’re my new hero for taking action against that campaign.
    Keep it up!
    Egg Beaten Angel

  9. Cyn says:

    You clearly have this covered! Thank you! Keep us posted on what they come up with next. Image is a core ingredient in a relationship — and the image I have of all the folks who explicitly or implicitly appreciated the “ugly girlfriend” campaign is, well, not pretty.
    I’m just blown away by the layers (upon layers) of mass ignorance that went into not only launching this campaign, but also perpetuating it and putting it on a pedestal!
    Ugh!

  10. Tamra says:

    You stalked him? You harassed him, and stalked him on his twitter account, and possibly other outlets?
    You are stepping into the world of extremism, and quite frankly, I’m starting to lose a lot of respect for you.

  11. Katie B, AoA says:

    How is saying “He said this” when he said it on a public forum stalking and/or harassment?
    If I say “Tamra said ‘You stalked him? You harassed him, and stalked him on his twitter account, and possibly other outlets?’ in a comment on mamaV’s blog” does that mean I’m stalking you and harassing you?

  12. Tamra says:

    She used the word “stalk”. She typed, ” Maybe because Rachel at FWordblog and I stalked him”.
    I just happened at add harassed, because it so often goes hand in hand with stalking.

  13. Katie B, AoA says:

    Does turn of phrase not come to mind? My job includes asking people for the spare 1p or 2p pieces in their pockets, and I frequently tell customers I intend to ‘rob’ them of their copper.
    No one’s reported me for theft yet.

  14. Lavinda says:

    I loved your reply too the stalking comment Tamara:)….
    Also great to see your work on this I was absolutly appauled when I saw this advertisement for bacardi breezers,it does not do what an advertisement is ment to it doesnt encourage people to drink these drinks, if anything it would put someone off the drink, as obviously people with these veiws are vain, shallow and prejudice to pretty much anything.

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